Any experienced Trimet watcher knows that these tax increases are automatic. Public testimony is taken because they have to listen to it. The Trimet was created specifically to avoid public accountability
TriMet is poised to increase its payroll tax to fund expanded transit
service within a month — despite opposition from some that pay it in
the business community.
The regional transit agency's staff has
proposed increasing the payroll tax 1/10th of 1 percent over 10 years.
All members of the Board of Directors who attended the first hearing on
the proposed increase spoke in favor of it last Wednesday. (of course) The board is
scheduled to vote on the increase at its Sept. 16 meeting.
one like to see increased fees but everyone want to see improved
service," said director Craig Prosser,(insider crony) the retired city manager of
Tigard, who called the increase necessary.
Representatives of the
Portland Business Alliance and the Westside Economic Alliance testified
that paying the increase would be a burden for many businesses,
Marion Haynes, the PBA's vice president of government
affairs and economic development, noted TriMet had approved a similar
increase in 2004 that only ended in 2014. She said the cumulative effect
would be a 37 percent increase over a little more than 20 years.
a large increases," Haynes said. "We've heard from some businesses
who've calculated the increase, and they think it's a doozie."
Pam Treece, the WEA's executive director, agreed.
"The increase is high and will be difficult for many businesses," she said.
Haynes and Treece testified their organizations support the goal of the
increase, however, which is to fund Service Enhancement Plans that
TriMet has developed to meeting the growing transit needs in different
parts of its service region.
The increase was supported by six
witnesses selected by TriMet to testify at the hearing, however. They
included: Tom Kelly, president of Neil Kelly Remodeling and chair of the
Portland Development Commission; Matt Cato, director of the Office of
Respect Life, Justice and Peace in the Archdiocese of Portland; Forest
Grove Mayor Peter Truax; and Steve De Angelo, owner of De Angelo's
Catering & Events. They all testified enhanced transit was necessary
to reduce congestion, serve the needs of the poor, and fight climate
"Congestion is terrible and its effecting every business
and neighborhood," said Kelly, adding that his company can no longer
guarantee when its workers will arrive at their job sites with
The payroll tax is TriMet's largest source of
operating revenue, accounting for about 60 precent on an annual basis.
It is authorized by the Oregon Legislature, which had previously given
TriMet approval to increase it when the economy was in good condition. A
report prepared by the ECONorthwest consulting firm reviewed at the
meeting said the Portland area economy has recovered from the Great
The PBA and WEA also asked the board to stop the
increases after five years and review whether they were bringing in more
revenue than projected. The board did not agree to what it called a
"hard stop" but promised it would review collection after five years
At the hearing, TriMet said the median increase is only
$8 in the first year and $82 at the end of the 10 years. But PBA
President and CEO Sandra McDonough, says the increase on larger
businesses is much more.
“We are hearing from large employers who
are projecting major six-figure boosts in their payroll tax after the
full 10-year increase is implemented. We support TriMet’s proposal to
increase transit service, especially to employment centers, and are
working with them on this proposal. But it is important to acknowledge
that this is a significant increase,” says McDonough.
The ordinance being consider by the board can be read here.