Our Stories – Multnomah County
Use the links below to find full statements from elected officials, community leaders, business owners, workers and nonprofits in Multnomah County.
As some of our region’s largest employers, we’re proud to be a major economic engine, providing 23,700 jobs. But as employers and households across our region continue to struggle with the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we strongly urge a no vote on Metro’s permanent $5 billion wage tax.
This punitive proposal puts many local businesses at risk and will change the operations of all employers. This isn’t a tax on business profits, it’s a burden on everyone struggling to rehire, reinvent operating plans, or simply keep the doors open.
This wage tax will impact the ability of businesses, large and small, to maintain the strength of our investments in the region. A new and unique tax on local wages is a strong incentive to limit payrolls in the metro area and grow jobs elsewhere
Our roots run deep in Oregon. We’re not opposed to all taxes, and we’ve supported smart transportation investments previously. But as employers, we must be flexible and responsive to reality. This package is neither.
The project list was developed before COVID-19 changed our world and shifted priorities. We don’t yet know how the pandemic will alter the way people in our area work and live moving forward. We do know this moment offers an opportunity to shape our economic future.
Metro’s wage tax will punish and destabilize our recovery.
The need to reduce congestion, get goods to market, and reduce commute times brought us to the table around transportation investment. But this measure only spends 3% of funds on congestion reduction. It doesn’t address critical bottlenecks like Highway 26, 217, or I-5 North — it prioritizes light rail to Tualatin.
Metro’s punitive wage tax misses the mark. Voters should feel confident in rejecting it.
We believe the path forward involves keeping our community united, prioritizing our kids, schools and parks, and preserving jobs.
Cambia Health Solutions
Daimler Trucks North America
The Greenbrier Companies
Precision Castparts Corp.
WE’RE TRYING TO PROTECT OUR EMPLOYEES. THIS PERMANENT TAX WILL COST JOBS.
The Barbers operates 19 metro-area barbershops – every one of which was shut down for over three months. We’ve reopened, yet revenues are still way down – while our fixed costs haven’t gone anywhere. In fact, they’re piling up, and we’re struggling just to keep our folks employed. Metro’s wage tax will force us to cut payroll and jobs.
WE’RE STRUGGLING. THIS IS THE WRONG TAX AT THE WRONG TIME.
Businesses are struggling right now because of a global pandemic. The fair response from government would be to offer relief from the struggle. Adding permanent costs to businesses right now feels out of touch and cruel.
WE’RE TIGHTENING OUR BELT. SO SHOULD METRO.
The Barbers isn’t anti-tax or anti-Metro. Metro recently raised taxes three times, for a total of $3.5 billion – worthy investments in a different economic climate, which we supported. But now is the worst time for the largest tax increase in our region’s history.
WE’RE FIGHTING TO KEEP OUR DOORS OPEN. THIS TAX WILL CLOSE THEM.
Like most households, our business is in triage mode. We’ve stripped down our operations to the essentials, just to keep our doors open. Metro must do the same. Paying for 50-year projects when the future is unclear 5 months from now is irrational and will harm people and businesses struggling to survive.
WE’RE HURTING. WE CANNOT AFFORD ANOTHER NEW TAX.
The pandemic and the recession are the fault of none of us yet impact all of us. In these unprecedented times, government must work to make it easier for households and businesses to survive, not harder. Metro’s never-ending $5.2 billion wage tax makes our survival much, much harder.
PLEASE VOTE NO ON METRO’S WAGE TAX.
Mark Spiegelberg, The Barbers
AORTA (Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates) supports better local and intercity bus and rail service.
We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and congestion from increasing auto traffic, and provide mobility more equitably. We need a transit system that draws drivers out of their cars. Even before COVID-19, only 4.2% of trips in this region were on transit. In Vancouver BC, a region of similar size, 16% of trips are on transit.
This measure fails in many ways:
- Nearly doubles employer payroll tax rate.
- Provides no increased transit service.
- Metro’s modeling shows insignificant progress on climate change.
- No significant ridership improvement.
- Most of the projects, other than the flawed SW Corridor light rail proposal, can and should be paid for out of gas tax revenue, or peak hour pricing of our freeway system.
The SW Corridor is problematic and:
- Is not cost-effective. The capital cost per new daily transit rider is excessive.
- Fails to serve important destinations: South Waterfront, OHSU, Hillsdale, PCC Sylvania, and downtown Tualatin.
- Is not integrated with a good bus network.
- Is not fast enough to attract freeway users
TriMet can’t afford expensive capital projects that don’t yield better ridership, as this pulls resources from existing bus service. When TriMet’s existing source of operating money shrinks due to the economy, service and ridership will suffer.
TriMet needs more frequent bus and light rail trips on current routes, increased coverage where service is missing, and better connections between routes. The bicycle, pedestrian, and safety projects in this measure that are cost-effective could be funded if legislators would reprogram gas tax money from the ineffective and disruptive I-5 “Rose Quarter” freeway expansion.
We oppose blindly pouring money into asphalt in the name of job creation. AORTA supports projects that actually reduce our dependence on climate-changing fossil fuels.
Doug Allen, AORTA
Portland Union Station, Suite 253
Working for Effective Transportation Since 1976
NONPROFITS FACE INCREASING NEEDS, DECREASING DONATIONS
Nonprofits are expert at using every donation for maximum benefit. This resourcefulness allows us to serve thousands of families across the region.
It also means that through this pandemic, as needs have increased and donations have decreased, we’ve struggled to keep our programs running.
METRO’S WAGE TAX WILL CAUSE SERVICE CUTS
That’s why Metro’s $5 billion tax proposal is devastating to nonprofits like ours.
It would mean we either cut services or cut employees or both – when our region can afford neither.
METRO EXEMPTS ITSELF, TAXES NONPROFITS
This measure would tax 70,000 nonprofit employees in the Metro region.
Metro exempted itself and other governments from paying the tax because they’re hurting financially.
Yet the frontline service providers who serve kids and families are expected to foot the bill.
Please reject this harmful tax.
Harvest Moormann, SALT Academy
On behalf of the thousands of employer members representing the broad diversity of industries in our city, region, and throughout the state, the Portland Business Alliance urges you to reject Metro’s $5 billion wage tax.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic changed our world, we happily helped Metro negotiate a workable transportation funding package. But just as every single business and household has been forced to adjust during the pandemic, so must government.
We’re in a severe economic downturn with nearly 300,000 Oregonians on unemployment. More small businesses are permanently closing by the day and state economists say our economy will not rebound until at least 2025.
Millions of Oregonians are now working from home and will continue doing so well into the future. This pandemic has reshaped the way we work and live; we must be responsive to that rather than dig in our heels to build roads and transit lines that may no longer be needed.
Metro’s wage tax makes employment more expensive when it’s already in short supply. A payroll tax is the worst revenue mechanism to propose during a historic economic downturn.
Imposing the largest payroll tax in history right now will not only lead to further job losses in the short term, it will slow economic recovery in the long term.
In the past three years, Portland area businesses have seen new taxes pass that are going into effect – including three new taxes from Metro alone, totaling $3.5 billion.
The costs from these taxes passed in an economic boom are compounding in the current economic downturn. They will cause further layoffs and closures.
Thoughtful leadership adapts to unforeseen events rather than charging ahead with obsolete plans.
This package was written for a booming economy heavily reliant on commuting. Our economy is now in a tailspin and work has turned remote.
We urge voters to lead Metro away from this disastrous plan by voting no.
Kiley Wilson, Portland Business Alliance
Creating and retaining jobs is foundational to economic recovery from the pandemic. Now is not the time for a new payroll tax that would discourage job growth.
Pre-COVID, the Central Eastside Industrial District was home to more than 22,000 jobs, many of those are family wage jobs. Now, many long time businesses have had major layoffs, and families are bearing the brunt.
The timing of this measure and the creation of a new, permanent payroll tax is ill-considered.
We recommend a No vote.
Kate Merrill, Executive Director, Central Eastside Industrial Council
We’re asking you to vote no on Metro’s tax proposal.
As employees of a fueling company, you might think we’d be excited for a permanent, enormous tax that subsidizes gasoline by 30 cents a gallon and will increase the number of drivers on the road, according to independent analysis.
But we’re asking you to vote against it because we know it will mean our region’s recovery will be weaker and take longer. Taxing every single job means employers won’t be able to rehire as quickly. And creating a new permanent tax in the middle of a global pandemic with no end in sight is bizarre.
We want elected officials to help lead us out of the mess we’re in, not make things worse. This outrageous tax will make things far worse.
We know our region needs road improvements. We hear from our customers every day about the gridlock they’re stuck in on their way to and from work. But this plan won’t do anything to fix that. The package reads like a wish list of pet projects that add up billions of dollars and no real benefit.
Not only that, Metro will have the future power to raise this tax without a vote of the people and to use it to fund whatever they want. It’s never the time to trust Metro with a blank check.
Please vote no on this outrageous tax proposal. It will hurt jobs, hurt the economy, hurt families, and hurt our recovery.
Leather Fuels Employees:
As a regional employer, we are writing to ask you to vote against Metro’s out-of-control permanent tax on wages. It will hurt our economic recovery with absolutely no guarantee on how Metro will spend the money.
Madden Industrial Craftsmen is an industrial staffing company that has been building businesses, craftsmen, and our community for more than three decades in the Pacific Northwest. We are a family-owned business, recognized as one of the best places to work, and we have partnered with nearly every industry in the area.
We bring all of that experience to our analysis of this tax, and our strong recommendation is to vote against it. We know it will hurt the region’s industries during this unprecedented economic decline and render them less able to rehire employees at a critical time, which will slow our recovery.
There’s a reason some of the earliest and largest contributions to this Metro campaign came from out-of-state interests. They see this massive permanent tax proposal from an agency with no experience managing transportation initiatives, and they see an opportunity to line up unlimited projects to take profits out of state.
Our economy is hurting. Many of our fellow workers are unemployed due to the impact of the coronavirus. Our kids are out of school indefinitely. Against this backdrop, Metro is making its biggest cash grab in history. It makes no sense.
Please vote against this tax.
Ken Madden, Madden Industrial Craftsmen
As the Chair of the Oregon Senate Revenue Committee, I don’t believe taxes are evil and I strongly support a transportation system that delivers health and economic benefits.
But Metro has done a poor job of uniting the two in this proposal. It needs to be sent back to the drawing board.
After helping write the 2019 Student Success Act that raised $1 billion a year for our schools, I know how important it is to bring business, labor and communities together. When everyone at the table understands the priorities as well as the concerns, it’s much easier to find common ground.
Unfortunately, Metro didn’t do that. And the result is a misguided and ill-timed measure.
When the legislature was digging out of the last recession, Oregonians told me they had three priorities: Jobs, jobs and jobs. As we wrestled with policies to get people back to work, a payroll tax was considered taboo. It was never considered by democrats or republicans because it was widely seen as a tax that penalized employers for hiring people. This was exactly opposite of what Oregon needed. So, I was surprised Metro decided upon a steep payroll tax during the worse recession most of us have ever seen.
Worse, Metro exempted themselves from paying it. However, they did not exempt churches, non-profits, colleges, private schools or struggling businesses – even those receiving COVID relief funds.
I learned long ago, it’s much easier to work together and get something passed rather than duking it out through political ads. My hope is that Metro, transportation advocates, and the business community can work together next year and build a transportation plan for a new post-pandemic world we will be living in.
Please join me in rejecting this well intentioned, but misguided measure.
Sen. Mark Hass – Chair, Senate Finance & Revenue Committee
Metro’s latest money grab is just wrong.
After raising taxes on business profits, property and personal income, Metro thinks it needs a new tax on wages and compensation?
Leave working people’s paychecks, health care benefits, and retirement savings alone! In case you didn’t notice, more than 300,000 Oregonians have lost their jobs in the last year. Many Metro businesses have been destroyed by the economy and the protests downtown. Metro’s arrogant administration thinks this is the time to see if they can sneak in a new permanent tax on those people who still have a job? They want to make it harder for restaurants to stay open? For non-profits to deliver services for those in need during a crisis? They must know how bad things are for those they are asking to pay this tax, or they wouldn’t have exempted themselves from it at the last minute.
Throughout my career, I have been a steadfast supporter of transportation. There are absolutely improvements we need to make, including fixing bottlenecks in the region. But this is too big, too bloated, and too burdensome.
Let’s take a breath. We’re in a health pandemic, coupled with massive social unrest and historic unemployment. I don’t know how much worse we can make it, but if voters pass this crippling tax, we’ll find out.
Unemployed Oregonians need businesses to recover so they can get back to work and start earning a paycheck again. Metro should use its wildly oversized bureaucracy to help people and businesses get back on their feet – not to burden them with the largest tax the region has ever seen.
Enough is enough. Please vote No on Metro’s mammoth tax. It’s the wrong tax at the wrong time by people with the wrong priorities.
Courtesy of DEMOCRAT Betsy Johnson, who remembers when that word meant fairness to working people.
As a State Representative serving the people of Beaverton and Aloha, I can’t remain silent as Metro seeks to create a permanent tax on labor in the tri-county area. I’m not opposed to taxes when necessary and well used. But right now our priorities need to be getting our schools safely opened, keeping our community together, and protecting jobs.
Metro is moving a transportation plan constructed before the pandemic changed everything, that doesn’t solve the problems of HWY 26 or 217 (only 3% of new spending is set aside for congestion relief), and that fails to understand the importance of paychecks to so many families living on the edge right now.
As a Democrat, I’m frankly appalled that this tax is regressive, punishing employment and generating revenue based on the total compensation paid to employees. Taxing health care benefits, dental, retirement fund contributions just like income is not fair, or remotely in line with progressive values.
As we move forward after this pandemic and the resulting recession – or economic restructuring — I hope the Legislature will learn the lessons that Metro is ignoring: We need to prioritize our kids and families, and take a step back to consider what the impact will be from our actions. Our community needs to be united to serve the common good, not divided to serve government interest. Especially a government that exempted itself from the tax it seeks others to pay. Taxing churches, non-profits and businesses struggling to keep doors open through the Covid crisis – while exempting themselves – is unthinkable.
Join me in voting no. Let’s tell Metro that government should serve the people, not the other way around.
Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha
I’m asking you to vote no on Metro’s permanent wage tax. It’s a blank check that they can use for any projects they want – and business owners are stuck paying for it at a time when we can least afford it.
I came to this country as a child from South Korea. I became a citizen at 18 and opened my first Joy Teriyaki restaurant in 2006. In the 14 years since then, we’ve opened more than 30 Joy Teriyaki and Joy Poke restaurants.
We employ a thriving and diverse workforce, made up of some of the best our state and our region have to offer. We comprised endless stories of first-generation Americans, DACA students striving for a better life, and countless families who have been hit hard by the events of 2020.
As a company, we survived the Great Recession, but the effects of the pandemic have been much worse for restaurants – and we don’t know when it will end.
I’ve done everything I can to keep as many people on staff as possible. And I know that if this measure passes, I will not be able to keep as many people employed or rehire as quickly as I’d like.
As an immigrant who is living my own American dream, I always want to contribute everything I can. I volunteer in my community, feed the homeless, and am active on multiple boards. I feel a deep responsibility to give back. As part of that, I support policies – and tax proposals – that will help create a brighter future. This tax doesn’t do that.
Instead, it subsidizes emissions, builds roads ODOT should pay for, and commits future generations to a regressive tax structure.
Please vote no on this permanent and regressive tax.
Justin Hwang, Joy Teriyaki
Oregon Business and Industry and our 1,600 members are committed to growing Oregon’s economy, ensuring quality jobs, and maintaining healthy communities.
Metro’s wage tax moves our region backward in each of these three areas. Here’s why we urge a no vote.
THE WORST ECONOMY SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION
- Now is the worst time for Metro to create a permanent new tax on the wages of thousands of struggling businesses and non-profits.
- This new tax will cost jobs and shrink paychecks for more than 70% of workers in the region.
TIME TO STOP RAISING TAXES AND START LIVING WITHIN OUR MEANS
- Metro has passed $3.6 billion in taxes on our businesses, property, and income in the last 2 years.
- Now they want a new, permanent $5.2 billion tax on the wages and paychecks of employers.
METRO’S PRIORITIES ARE WRONG
- With the many challenges facing us from COVID-19, we need to prioritize protecting our jobs, family paychecks and supporting schools.
- Metro’s wage tax harms the very priorities we need to protect during this crisis.
- We should be helping unemployed Oregonians get back to work, but this tax takes money away from employers struggling to get back on their feet and restore lost jobs.
METRO SPENDS BILLIONS WITHOUT REDUCING CLIMATE CHANGE
- Metro’s claims this measure combats climate change, but local climate and transit leaders disagree.
- The Oregon Environmental Council says the Metro plan will reduce emissions by just .10%
METRO’S WAGE TAX ISN’T FAIR
- Employers and local non-profits across the entire tri-county area pay a new tax, but Multnomah gets more while Washington and Clackamas counties get less.
- This measure will force Washington County to spend $75 million – money that will be diverted from classrooms and student achievement.
OBI supports investing in our economic future. Metro’s wage tax harms households, employers, and nonprofits at a time when we can’t take on another big cost.
Please reject this harmful tax.
Nathaniel Brown, Oregon Business Industry
The Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce has long supported improving mobility, investing in infrastructure, and reducing our carbon footprint. But there’s a better way to invest in our future than by attacking paychecks, jobs, small businesses and nonprofits including churches and colleges. Now, during the worst downturn since the Great Depression, is not the time for the largest tax increase in our region’s history.
You don’t have to be a business with 25 or more employees to feel the extreme weight of Metro’s wage tax. While the measure currently is aimed at employers with 25 or more workers, Metro also has the authority to raise the tax and lower the number of employees without voter approval. Metro’s wage tax harms everyone at the worst time as working families, non-profits, charities, and small businesses are facing unprecedented economic anxiety and fear.
Businesses have not yet recovered from the shutdown. COVID-19 continues to damage our economy. Families, nonprofits, and small businesses are trying to survive: Metro extracting $5 billion from a shrinking economy will lead to lost wages, lost jobs, fewer services, and, ultimately, fewer small businesses like restaurants. And the people who can least afford it are hurt the most by Metro’s tax.
Metro’s wage tax is needlessly divisive when we need to be united. Our region’s employer groups worked with Metro for nearly two years negotiating a workable funding package with broad support. Metro had the buy-in for a practical, consensus proposal, but chose instead a divisive, political proposal that punishes the private sector, employees and nonprofit employers, forcing them alone to fund a system everyone uses. Over 100,000 public employees are conveniently exempt from this tax.
Now is the time to unite not drive wedges, play politics, and cut paychecks. Working families, non-profits, and small businesses cannot afford the harm Metro’s tax would wage on our region’s economy. Vote NO!
Lynn Snodgrass, Gresham Chamber Of Commerce
On behalf of every hardworking employee, every struggling business owner, and every child who deserves a bright future in Multnomah County, we are urging you to vote no on this tax.
This is the wrong tax. Metro’s own analysis shows that a payroll tax is regressive – it punishes those at the bottom the most. They know voters don’t support yet another payroll tax, so they went to court to fight against calling it what it is.
This is the wrong time. We are in the midst of a global pandemic and must focus our attention on getting people back to work, students back to school, and life back to normal. We don’t know yet if we’re facing a severe recession or a fundamental restructuring of our economy. Now is not the time for a massive payroll tax.
This tax is forever. This measure gives Metro the authority to implement a payroll tax forever. They can make changes to the rate or even swap in a whole new list of projects without asking voters — forever. And they went to court to make sure they wouldn’t have to tell voters that it’s permanent.
This tax is massive. And it’s not the end. Metro’s plan is to pass this tax, THEN go to the Legislature to ask them to pass additional taxes. By the time they’re done, every dollar you earn and every mile you drive will have a new tax in the middle of a recession.
Please vote No. Tell Metro to focus on the crisis at hand or sit on the sidelines until they can be helpful.
4Site Web Services
Cascade Sotheby’s International Real Estate
Kohler Meyers O’Halloran Inc
No Tolls PAC
Style on 2nd
Taste of Style PDX
Warren Allen LLP
VOTE NO ON 26-218: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Metro is asking the region’s voters to create more than $5.2 billion in new taxes to build a light rail line running from downtown Portland, tearing up Barbur Boulevard and an entire SW Portland neighborhood, and ending at the high-end Bridgeport Village shopping center.
In the past two years, voters approved $3.6 billion in new taxes to fund Metro’s mission creep. Their internal audits already show mismanagement of the money they have. We can’t trust them with $5.2 billion more.
VOTE NO: METRO LIED ABOUT THE TAX
Metro tried to tell voters 26-218 is a business tax. That’s a lie.
It’s a tax on wages paid plus “all remuneration paid in any medium other than cash.” That means Metro can tax your employer’s contributions to your health insurance and retirement. In addition to businesses, more than 70,000 workers at churches, charities, and other nonprofits will be taxed.
In a self-serving last minute move, Metro amended the measure to exempt itself and other state and local governments from the tax. Then they lied about why they did it and lied about how much the exemption would cost. If they’re lying to pass the measure, they’re going to lie when they implement it.
VOTE NO: METRO CAN’T BE TRUSTED
Metro’s own auditor criticized Metro’s capital project spending and Metro’s adherence to its own Code of Ethics. Just this year, the Metro Auditor called into question Metro’s management of more than $650 million of spending for affordable housing, finding:
- Poor cost management
- Questionable expenditures,
- Lapsed timelines,
- Conflicts of interest on its own oversight committee, and
- A lack of transparency.
If we can’t trust Metro to manage $650 million, we can’t trust Metro to manage $5.2 billion in new taxes.
VOTE NO ON 26-218
On behalf of Oregon’s Auto Dealers and the workers we employ, please vote no on this permanent tax.
This tax prevents a strong recovery
Oregon’s employers are teetering on the brink. The pandemic has hurt us all, and we’ve worked together as a community to keep our cases low. Now, Metro is proposing a tax to make the hardest-hit businesses pay for roads that the Oregon Department of Transportation should fix. This will suck billions of dollars out of our economy and slow our recovery unnecessarily.
This tax is poorly written
The measure says that the tax applies to wages and “all other forms of compensation.” It’s written so broadly, that could mean we’ll pay a tax on company cell phone plans, health insurance, and even the commissions that our sales team earns when they sell a car. Why is Metro reaching into the pockets of hard workers who are barely getting by in the toughest economic times since the Great Depression?
Metro’s own auditor says they can’t be trusted
In 2018, Metro passed housing bond. This summer, the Metro auditor who evaluates these programs raised many red flags, including the Metro didn’t know where the money was going, wasn’t spending it the way they had promised voters, put its own paid contractors in an oversight role, and was keeping the public in the dark about all of it. We can’t give them a blank check in the form of a permanent tax to do more of the same.
Metro was created to manage parks and garbage. With this massive permanent tax, they’re trying to become road and rail builders. Please vote no and let Metro know they should stick to what they do best while our area’s job creators lead the way toward recovery.
Greg Remensperger, Oregon Auto Dealers Association
After graduating from Forest Grove High School, with an $800 limit credit card, I started my own business with a lawnmower and a pickup truck. Starting with my first client on SW Hilltop Lane in Portland, I was able to eventually maintain many gardens on the same street. Seeing that I was doing a good job and willing to work hard, my clients were very happy and became a volunteer salesforce to help me grow.
Because I have been working 70 to 80 hours per week for the last 34 years non-stop, I’m able to employ almost 50 people. My success allows me to help our community in many different ways. Hospitals, churches, schools and other nonprofit agencies are able to provide services because of employers like me.
Metro has been proposing more and more taxes every year. Now, Metro is asking you to vote to raise my taxes and those of other employers with 25 employees or more. They exempted the government agencies and their employees from paying this tax. It is shameful to target only a small group of people to pay for services that all the public can use.
The new employee payroll tax is primarily to finance the expansion of Tri-Met when there are fewer people riding Tri-Met. The ridership has been going down for some time. At a minimum, I want my tax dollars to be used for something that will improve everyone’s lives and standard of living. Tri-Met admits that the light rail line to Tigard will require the destruction of about 114 business properties and 106 residential homes. Where will these people go who lose their buildings?
This looks like a very bad idea. I urge you to vote no.
Manuel Castaneda, PLi Systems
We’re urging a vote against Metro’s payroll tax.
At TenBridge Partners, we specialize in working with business owners and individuals on community revitalization. As a company, we saw the long-lasting impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the economic health of our region. And as a native Portlander, I have seen our great region through many up and down cycles.
I would support any proposal to truly bring equity to public transportation, revitalize our region, and ensure a robust recovery. This proposal does none of the above: It would allow for continued increases in congestion and pollution, impair our recovery, and hurt our economy for years to come.
Metro’s proposal robs two generations: It kicks today’s workers and job creators while we’re down, and it locks future generations into a permanent tax to fund whatever Metro feels like at the time, with zero voter oversight.
Metro was created to be a regional coordinator of garbage and parks. But they’re on a power grab rampage: In the last two years alone, Metro has raised taxes on our businesses, property and income. Now they want to tax every single job (well, except Metro jobs: They’ve exempted themselves and other government organizations from paying this!). We must say no and let Metro know we aren’t an ATM for their pet projects.
Independent economic analysis shows this tax will be directly paid for by the region’s employees. And it will take that money straight from the budgets of hard-working Oregonians and give it to giant out-of-state companies to build projects ill-suited to this moment.
Please vote no on this tax proposal.
Erik Lawrence, TenBridge Partners
The Portland Clinic has served our city for 100 years. In that time, we’ve weathered the 1918 pandemic, the Great Depression, and the Great Recession.
We have always supported safe and reliable transportation for our patients and employees. However, the Metro wage tax to fund transportation projects could actually jeopardize health care delivery at a time when we need access to quality clinical services more than ever. That’s because it would add more costs to health care systems that have already seen a drop in patients due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
It would place a major new cost burden on all medical services and require hospitals and clinics to consider more layoffs or service reductions to balance current and future budgets.
We aren’t yet through this pandemic. Our elected officials should be laser focused on managing the pandemic and our region’s public health crisis. We cannot defeat COVID-19 and recover swiftly if our elected officials are focused on creating new taxes on businesses that are struggling to help those in need.
When we’ve made it through the pandemic, we can talk about expanding public transportation. But not now. We encourage a no vote on the Metro wage tax.
Dick Clark, Portland Clinic
As a third-generation CEO in the Melvin Mark company legacy, I grew up steeped in business and a love for this region.
I started my career working maintenance for the commercial real estate my father and grandfather managed and worked many jobs on the road to CEO. I’ve learned three core lessons: put people first, give back to the community, and demonstrate honesty and integrity.
This tax doesn’t meet those criteria.
It does not put people first. People in our region are suffering right now. Between the pandemic, record unemployment, and civil discord, so many people in our area are hurting. This list of road projects was developed in a different time. If Metro put people first, they would go back to the drawing board to create a package that would truly help in this historic moment. This doesn’t.
It does not give back to the community. The first donors to line up in support of this new wage tax were out-of-state construction businesses. Why would large construction firms donate? They’re eager to take $5 billion from our local economy. Supporters tout the job creation for out-of-state construction bosses, but say nothing of the jobs that will be lost at local companies struggling to make it.
It does not demonstrate honesty and integrity. Metro went to court so they wouldn’t have to tell voters this is a permanent payroll tax. They tried to negotiate behind closed doors for a lower tax rate, even though that would have hindered the ability to complete any of the projects. And they have failed to let voters know that this permanent tax can be used for absolutely anything Metro wants – without a vote of the public.
Please vote no on this measure. It does not meet basic criteria for good public policy and will do real harm to our region at the benefit of outside corporations.
Jim Mark, Melvin Mark Companies
As the owner of several restaurants, I urge you to vote against Metro’s proposed payroll tax. It would be the nail in the coffin for my restaurant and many others.
In a normal year, a typical restaurant has a 4 percent profit margin. That means for every dollar we earn, we proudly put 96 cents back into the local economy. That goes to pay wages, farmers, and food producers, as well as rent, supplies, and utilities. Restaurant owners are the very last to get paid.
What’s this have to do with Metro’s request for the largest-ever tax increase during a pandemic? First, the pandemic and its mandatory shut-downs and reduction in seating have meant a drastic reduction in revenue. But our costs have stayed virtually the same: We still pay our workers, purchase food, and must pay rent and utilities. Suddenly our profit not only disappears and we make no money – but we go into debt just to keep our doors open.
Adding a new tax that I’ll have to pay whether I make a profit or not – because it taxes wages, not profits – means I’ll have to write a check for thousands of dollars that I don’t have. And many other businesses will be in the same situation.
And for what? For projects that claim to improve equity and the environment, but, in reality, will do neither. Independent economic analysis says this would make emissions worse, and Metro’s own auditor said it is recklessly spending money from recently passed taxes in a way that doesn’t track to what they sold voters on.
Are we willing to sacrifice the small businesses that are the fabric of our economy for a $5 billion tax that only makes things worse?
Justin Hwang, Joy Poke
Please vote against this tax.
The last year has been the most difficult year for business in my lifetime. In the travel industry, flights, tours, hotel stays and restaurant meals have plummeted. Travel is not just our passion: It’s a massive economic engine for our region.
Yet this tax would hit the travel industry hard: The tourism and hospitality industry rely on people power, and this would tax every wage of every single employee. That will mean fewer companies will rehire fewer workers. That hurts our families and our regional economy.
It would create an artificial cutoff that would prevent some businesses from expanding. We need businesses to grow right now so more people return to their livelihoods.
Metro should be focused on pandemic relief and job creation, not aiming for the largest tax increase in its history.
Metro should be focused on helping us, not helping itself to our paychecks. Say no to this permanent tax.
Sue Piazza, Bucket List Travel Tours
As a commercial landscaping business, we have, as many of our business customers have, been impacted by the pandemic. The pandemic has also changed the way we work, live, and commute. And we believe those changes need to be evaluated.
We ask you to vote against this permanent tax.
And yet Metro is proposing a tax on every dollar we earn to build transportation projects that we don’t think properly addressed the congestion anyway. Do we need to spend billions on a light rail to a mall if we may not be able to return to malls anytime soon?
The answer is no. These are the wrong projects, the wrong tax, and at the wrong time. It will hurt our region’s recovery. It will prevent employers from hiring workers. And it will lock our children into paying for debt throughout their careers.
Please vote no.
Bob Grover, Pacific Landscape Management
We’re writing to ask you to vote against Metro’s largest-ever tax increase.
During the pandemic, our local, family owned business has watched every penny to keep as many employees on payroll as we possibly can. We’ve changed our business and delivery model so we can keep our customers safe. And like any good business, we’ve been flexible and responsive to changing needs.
That’s why this proposal is so baffling. It creates a permanent tax on every single one of our employees at the toughest time in the history of our business. Why on earth would Metro slap us with yet another tax that makes it harder to do business?
Not only that, while we are required to comply with every new rule and guideline, Metro has the power to do whatever it wants with this money. It can change the tax rate at any time, change what the money is funding, and keep the tax on the books so long that today’s preschoolers will still be paying for it in a couple of decades. And it can do all of that without any voter approval whatsoever.
We are proud to do our part in the community, and we would be the first to line up in favor of a plan that would lead us out of this recovery toward a thriving region as soon as possible. This isn’t it.
Please vote against this massive power and money grab.
Drake Snodgrass, Drake’s 7 Dees Inc
We have had retail businesses in East County for 32 years. Twenty years ago, we built the Troutdale General Store from scratch. We have weathered a recession, rough winters, a Gorge fire from which we had just recovered and then COVID hit. Our three-month closure due to the pandemic was hard and reopening our doors when people are wary of going out hasn’t been easy. But like many small businesses, we are trying to push forward and rebound in a time of great uncertainty.
Our future is already scary and now Metro has a forever new tax for us. A tax on us but not on Metro – they exempted themselves! So, they protected themselves and left us out to dry.
This permanent wage tax will force small stores like ours out of business – we just can’t afford to absorb a new tax when we are already struggling just to make ends meet.
Small businesses are the engine of our East County economy and we work hard to serve our customers and pay our employees a decent wage to support their families. We are on the brink; this tax must not pass.
Please say No to Metro’s wage tax. We must keep and encourage new entrepreneurs and business owners — not make the cost of doing business force them out. This tax will do just that.
Terry and Jodi Smoke, Troutdale General Store
SW Corridor does little for SW Portland
The expensive SW Corridor project will not improve the pedestrian environment in SW Portland other than fill in a few gaps of missing sidewalk. The pedestrian and bicycle facilities in some sections will feel like one is walking or riding in a “cattle chute” along a busy, noisy, smelly, four lane highway breathing polluted air.
TriMet, Metro and the City of Portland have refused to include the long planned, family friendly Red Electric Trail in their project. This route would not run along the Barbur alignment.
The State and City are planning to place tolls on I-5 in the near future, yet NO analysis or consideration of the impact of this development has been done by the SW Corridor team. When the Evergreen Bridge was tolled in Seattle, over 50% of the cars found other routes. The impact of I5 tolling on Barbur and our local streets will flood them with cars and trucks seeking to avoid tolls. With the SW Corridor trains running down the middle of Barbur it will be difficult for pedestrians to cross in many locations. Barbur will not be pedestrian friendly.
By doubling the payroll tax, the funding source of our region’s bus system, it is unlikely the inadequate abysmal bus service in our communities will be improved and the existing service may not be able to be maintained without additional taxes.
Join me in voting no on this measure.
Don Baack, Founder of SWTrails