Quantcast
» Rain tax won’t be called that

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Rain tax won’t be called that

Written March 5th, 2016 by Hasso Hering

The faint gurgling you hear in the video will soon, in Albany, be the sound of money draining away. Because whether you call it that or not, it’s clear that what the city government is planning is a rain tax by another name.

For the past year the city council has received periodic briefings on the need to bring in more revenue to repair, expand, improve or maintain the storm drains. The council returns to the subject in a work session Monday, March 7, when it will review the draft of an ordinance. The proposed ordinance creates a “stormwater utility.”

To pay for this utility, the ordinance imposes a “stormwater service charge.” And who pays this service charge? “All persons that contribute to the stormwater system or who otherwise use or benefit from the stormwater system, and said persons shall be responsible for paying the stormwater service charge.”

All persons? Hardly. The city is not going to set up toll booths to collect a tax from motorists who benefit from the absence of flooded streets every time there’s a hard rain.

No, the service charge will be assessed against the owners of real property. But the ordinance can’t admit this. If it did, it would look like what it is, an addition to the property tax.

The ordinance says the service charge will be handled “such that it is not a tax subject to the property tax limitation” in the state constitution. No doubt this can be done. Many other cities have done it, and the courts have upheld it. But just because the courts have upheld it does not mean it’s not a subterfuge, a way to evade the limits the voters set up.

The courts have found such a fee is not a tax as long as it’s “controllable and avoidable.” So how can Albany homeowners control the stormwater charge on their properties? Or avoid it altogether? They can’t.

In practical terms, the fee will be collected as part of the monthly water and sewer bills. That means owners of undeveloped property without water and sewer hookups won’t have to pay no matter how much runoff flows into the storm drains from their land. Let’s see how the council works out the fairness in that. (hh)



15 responses to “Rain tax won’t be called that”

  1. Robert kahn says:

    Make sure you vote out each city elected official that votes for this!

  2. Rolland Brower says:

    And for those whose rain drains don’t connect to the city storm drain system, the rain tax taxes them for something they don’t use, that is unless they divert the drain lines to the city street gutters or run them into the city sewer, which they don’t want.

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    You said, “In practical terms, the fee will be collected as part of the monthly water and sewer bills.”

    It already is. The cost of the current stormwater service is built into the sewer rate and SDC.

    You should have said, “In practical terms, the fee will INCREASE your monthly water and sewer bills.”

    The city has no intention of lowering our sewer rate. Albany residents will experience a double whammy – pay the new rain tax AND the existing sewer rate and charge.

    And we will not be allowed to vote on this tax. The council will guard their power to unilaterally impose a new tax with every legal weapon in their arsenal.

    There is a word for this – tyranny – a city under the rule of a cruel and oppressive government

    • centrist says:

      Obviously you’re enraged at things that the city government does. However I reserve “cruel and oppressive” for folks like Khruschev, Stalin, Pol Pot, deKlerk, the Fascists, and others who crushed the life out of millions. Perhaps you overclaim.

      • Jim Engel says:

        How about using your real name & not hide? You might be taken more seriously…JE

        • centrist says:

          Two things
          Using the nom de plume is actually a (granted thin) security device. The content written by some is pretty scary. Prefer not to meet those folks.
          Revealing a name won’t affect my credibility. Acceptance or rejection is the reader’s choice.

  4. Richard Vannice says:

    How about this? None of the storm water runoff from our property empties into the City storm sewer. It runs into a county roadside ditch and ultimately into the Willamette River. There is one subdivision off Scenic Dr. between 23rd and 24th where the storm water is collected in the City storm water drain and then dumped into the roadside ditch.
    It looks to me as though this whole “Rain Tax” is a can of worms with a lot of un-thought or not completely thought out conditions.
    Thanks again to our legislators for a jump to do something without consideration of what or how it will affect people.

  5. Jim Engel says:

    Fairness from our City council you ask, Mr Hering? So, just developed property like mine but vacant lots, parks, streets, sidewalks are not subject to the “tax”. Just the usual clever word manipulation from government as usual. That’s why on their election campaign they can self righteously claim that “they” did not vote for tax increases. Hummm… my friends in Arizona had better look out ’cause a “dust tax” may hit them! Can I have a different flavor of cake, I’m getting tired of lemon!…JE

  6. Max stalnaker says:

    Could I avoid this by putting in big cisterns? Smile. And buying one of those big wheel all terrain vehicles? Maybe one that converts to a boat? Even the fellow with friends in Nevada might have a case. What you need to worry about is that if you do not pay your stormwater dues your water will be shut off! Then you will wish you had a cistern.

  7. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “Albany has not significantly changed how we manage stormwater since we were in the midst of separating stormwater and sanitary sewer collection systems in the 1970s and 1980s. Since that time Albany’s population has almost doubled and much has changed in the regulatory world.” – Mark Shepard (Jan. 2nd, 2015 for the Jan. 12th work session – the 1st of 6 meetings so far…)

    Yes, Thanks to the EPA & DEQ mandates, it *will* happen, but definitely not “soon.” It will probably be 18-24 months based on last info we have.

    “To pay for this utility, the ordinance imposes a “stormwater service charge.” And who pays this service charge? ‘All persons that contribute to the stormwater system or who otherwise use or benefit from the stormwater system, and said persons shall be responsible for paying the stormwater service charge.’…The ordinance says the service charge will be handled ‘such that it is not a tax subject to the property tax limitation’ in the state constitution. No doubt this can be done. Many other cities have done it, and the courts have upheld it.

    Yes, The Oregon Supreme Court ruled it was legal. (Maybe some folks have an easier way to fund the mandates. If so, no one has come forward with a viable alternative to what we have before us.) Albany is not alone in being required to come up with a plan to implement stormwater management. As Albany grows, the regulatory process does not diminish. Especially if we all value the quality of life we enjoy.

    • Jim Clausen says:

      Ray says, “The ordinance says the service charge will be handled ‘such that it is not a tax subject to the property tax limitation’ “.

      This is the real goal of the city council, to take away any say the tax payer has on new taxes. They know that people will rise in uproar over new taxes, so they’ve plotted and schemed to find a way around that problem. It’s an end run around the law.

      The city (and the state) want cart blanche in their ability to raise taxes. This is the newest way to do just that.

      For now it’s the rain, but they’ll be scheming on new ways to separate us from our hard earned money. And they will continue to do so as long as they are in office. This is why they call it “progressivism”, one cut at a time until we’re bled out and can not fight any more…

      • Bob Woods says:

        What a blow hard. I remember you and your “The UN is coming to take over Albany” crap when you were gearing up for your disastrous run for mayor. Conspiracies are the only way you can see the world.

        The Council is trying to stay compliant with the law. That’s all. Crap is going into the wetlands and streams, like oil from your leaky motorcycle, and it has to be reduced. The law has been adopted to make that happen and to clean up our rivers. And nothing is free in life. You should have figured it out by now at your age.

        • Jim Clausen says:

          Ya gotta love Bob’s fighting spirit. It’s too bad though that he has to resort to quoting things I’ve never said.

          I never said “The UN is coming to take over Albany”.

          I have however made clear the fact that the city uses software supplied by ICMA, which is a subsidiary of ICLEI, which was started by the UN. I’ve also questioned the mayor belonging to the UN mayors council.

          I’ve reported the facts. Where Bob gets that I’ve ever said “The UN is coming to take over Albany” is beyond me – I’ve never said any such thing…

          As to my “disastrous run for mayor” – I got close to 2/3’s of the votes the mayor got. And I haven’t spent years using tax payer money cultivating and buying off votes with urban renewal projects. Given the unequal playing field, I’d say I did pretty darned good…

  8. Jim Clausen says:

    What’s next? A sunshine tax?

    Buildings block the sun which prevents plant growth. I’m sure in their twisted world they could find a way to work that out.

    They could even call it “a tax for where the sun don’t shine”…

  9. Bill Kapaun says:

    The sad part is this will result in a greater use of mosquito breeding swales like the one at the new apartments on Oak St. between Lowes & Queen.
    It’s a SWAMP with lots of standing water.

 

 
Cycle around town!
Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!