City of Portland Measure 26-150
Renews Children’s Levy: YESMeasures pitched as “helping children” are perennially popular and—like children themselves—adorable until examined closely. The so-called Portland Children’s Levy is like a baby’s diaper: It stinks, but it’s necessary. And somebody should change it already.
First, the smelly part: The city of Portland is out of its element when it tries to provide social services. That’s the job of Multnomah County. This mission creep bothered us in 2002, when City Commissioner Dan Saltzman first proposed a tax of 40 cents on every $1,000 of assessed property value for child-abuse prevention, foster care, early education and hunger prevention.
The measure before us now would extend the levy for five more years, raising about $10 million annually.
But the Children’s Levy operates with admirably low administrative costs and provides good oversight of programs that receive its grants.
We think the taxpayers of Portland should be chipping in to offer a safety net to kids in foster care, who come from abusive homes and who aren’t getting three square meals a day.
But so should the taxpayers of Multnomah County to a greater extent. It makes zero sense that a levy intended to help the neediest kids doesn’t extend into some of the poorest areas in the eastern portion of the county.
Multnomah County needs to step up and take over the mission behind this levy. Instead, the county has pushed a library taxing district—which cut into money for the Children’s Levy.
So vote yes, and consider adding a note to city and county officials, telling them to straighten out once and for all who pays for what.