One city's tax mirror

Property tax payers outraged by their bills in the fall forget so quickly how warm and generous they felt last spring when they charged needed government services to their accounts. They blame the tax assessor, the state Legislature, school boards, city councils, county commissions and, in truth, everybody but the persons responsible for the increased tab - themselves.

Look at Portland, for example.

Citizens were properly convinced last spring that a $30.7 million levy was needed to maintain the quality of Portland's schools. Their ballot added $2.20 per $1,000 assessed value, or more than $100 to the property tax bill this fall for a $50,000 home.

Add to that 11 cents per $1,000 to meet Multnomah County's levy request for police, library and other services; 15 cents for Portland Community College's new tax base; 19 cents for capital improvements for the city of Portland; and 11 cents for the zoo, and voters tacked onto their property tax bills $2.76 for each $1,000 of assessed value. The Port of Portland paid off some bonds to drop that figure to $2.74, but the total is clear: $22.83 per $1,000 in 1981, compared to $20.09 in 1980.

The owner of an average home in Multnomah County this fall was billed $862 in property taxes, with the state picking up another $315 through its property tax relief program. That compares with $757 last year. Of course it is a tax increase, but it is one voters imposed on themselves.

And while property tax payers are looking in the mirror, they might take a moment, too, to consider:

Is it really important to pay this for schooling children, protecting property and persons, helping those unable to help themselves?

The answer in the voting booth was ''yes.''

It was the right answer.

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