Arts Tax Deal Reached
MONDAY, MAY 13, 2013 – Mayor Charlie Hales on Monday proposed a deal on the 2012 city arts tax, which should allow all six school districts to hire art instructors for the coming year.
The arts tax – OK’d by voters in November, 2012 – has been challenged in two law suits. If the city were to lose either suit, the money might have to be given back to taxpayers. Consequently, the mayor announced in March that the city could not distribute the money to the schools, or to arts organizations, as intended; he understands, however, the importance of having teachers in classrooms.
Distribution of the money – an estimated $6 million – was scheduled to begin in November 2013.
Under the deal proposed by Hales, some city money would be freed up to help the six districts – Portland Public Schools, along with Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Reynolds and Riverdale school districts.
The city will disburse $3 million in November, but no more during the 2013-14 fiscal year, pending favorable rulings or settlements on the law suits.
“The superintendents and I have been working to find a way to be true to the taxpayers, whose money this is, and to the voters, who approved the arts tax,” Hales said. “We think this does it.”
Of that $3 million disbursement, the risk will be shared equally: $1 million from the city’s contingency fund; $1 million from future budget appropriations to the Regional Arts & Culture Council, or RACC; and $1 million combined from the six school districts.
The money disbursed fall overwhelmingly to Portland Public Schools, the largest of the districts. About two-thirds of the dollars are earmarked for PPS; one-third to the other districts.
Each district will decide how it wants to spend the money. For instance, Superintendent Carole Smith of Portland Public Schools will recommend hiring an estimated 30 FTE arts teachers – not 45 FTE, or full-time equivalent – and spreading those 30 positions evenly across her district.
Other districts could spend the money to hire, or bank it in case the law suits go against the city and money has to be returned.
“We are not in the business of telling superintendents how to run their districts,” Hales said. “These decisions have been tough to reach, but it’s been a combined effort all along, and we’re grateful to the arts community and our school districts for working with us to find a practical solution. In the end, getting teachers in our classrooms will pay dividends for generations to come.”
The mayor said his focus has been on elementary school students in thePortlandarea. “We want these students to have the benefit of the arts education that taxpayers have supported, and to do it in a financially responsible way,” he said.
Web site launched
THURSDAY, FEB. 28, 2013 –Today, the Portland Revenue Bureau launched www.artstax.net to educate the public about the city’s groundbreaking new Arts Education & Access Fund, and to begin accepting $35 income tax payments from local residents.
Due annually beginning April 15, 2013, Portland’s new $35 income tax for income-earning adult residents of Portland (and exempting any taxpayer under the federal poverty limit) is expected to generate approximately $12.2 million in annual net revenue. It was passed into law when 62 percent ofPortlandvoters approved Ballot Measure 24-146 last November.
The Arts Education & Access Fund is a local income tax to restore arts education to every Portland elementary school and fund arts education and access programs citywide.
“Portland residents recognize the value of investing in art and music teachers, and they want more access to arts activities throughout the city,” said Jessica Jarratt Miller, Creative Advocacy Network executive director, “Now with just $35 we can ensure that every Portlander has access to our city’s cultural and creative riches.”
The Arts Tax will fund school teachers and non-profit organizations in Portland.Portland residents can call (503) 865-4ART (4278) for more information.