Measure 26-210, Metro homeless services tax measure: No

In Stabtown, our leaders don’t try to get smarter about issues, they just throw more money at them. And this one is downright stupid.

First off, homelessness isn’t really Metro’s mandate. It would be one thing if all of the local governments banded together, came up with a coherent regional strategy and asked Metro to implement it. They didn’t. Instead Metro councilors decided that they needed to slap a tax on top of all the other taxes Stabtown and its suburbs have passed in recent years to address the problem.

The tax would fall on “high income” households and business profits. Anyone who thinks that the businesses won’t pass the cost on to consumers is fooling themselves. This is a stealth sales tax, plain and simple. That or a jobs reduction program as businesses don’t hire workers because they can’t afford them.

It has zero accountability built in. The measure promises that no more than 5% of revenue will go to administration and oversight. Yeah, until Metro finds out that managing a huge tax like this costs way more. Portland made the same 5% promise about the Arts Tax, and then council lifted the cap.

The lack of accountability gets worse if the measure passes. How will Metro spend the funds? They’ll tell you later. Each county would develop an implementation plan. Maybe voters should know the plan before they vote, not after.

And when the money starts flowing to all of the same homeless advocates and service providers who have already failed our community, there’s no guarantee of accountability there. Those organizations needn’t have their own cap on administrative fees. Money people wanted to go to helping the homeless won’t.

Worst of all, dumping a bunch of uncommitted money into providing stuff for campers and stabbers will make Stabtown all the more attractive to homeless from outside the tri-county. Let’s not invite more homeless to move here.

Voters passed a $653 million affordable housing bond for Metro just two years ago. Have things gotten better as a result? A look at Stabtown’s streets will answer that question. Metro hasn’t demonstrated that it has the competence to manage another $250 million.

Meanwhile, Stabtown, like Oregon and all of America, is about to take a nosedive into recession. Businesses need all the help they can get to put people back to work and revive the economy after the pandemic. A new tax will make that all the harder.

Vote No on Measure 26-210.