Many residents of this region might be surprised to learn that, unlike other local governments, Metro receives a minority of its total annual funding – 29 percent – from property taxes. Most of that property tax money pays for dedicated projects that the region’s voters have approved.
There are two categories for which Metro assesses property taxes: operating funds and capital projects.
Metro has a general operating levy that is funded through a permanent rate of 9.66 cents ($0.0966) per $1,000 of assessed value. This operating levy provides 5 percent of Metro’s overall operating revenues.
In May 2013, the region’s voters approved Measure 26-152 which established a five-year local-option levy, with an additional rate of 9.6 cents ($0.096) per $1,000 of assessed value, dedicated to improving water quality for salmon and native fish, removing invasive weeds that threaten the health of natural areas, restoring wetlands and providing opportunities for people from around the region to experience nature close to home. This five-year levy took effect on July 1, 2013. In November 2016 the region's voters renewed the levy at the same rate for an additional five years, extending the end date of funding to June 2023.
The rest of Metro’s operating funds come from enterprise revenues, excise taxes paid by users of Metro’s facilities, state and federal grants, and other sources.
Since 2006, the region’s voters approved four bond measures that enabled Metro to borrow against future property tax revenues to pay for different capital projects. These projects are initially funded through bonds sold to investors, and the investors are repaid, with interest, from revenues received through additional property tax assessments. These assessments remain on property tax statements until the bonds are fully paid.
For the tax year beginning July 1, 2019, owners of real property within Metro’s jurisdiction pay a total of 48 cents ($0.48) per $1,000 of assessed value for three voter-approved bond measures. The voter-approved capital projects funded through property taxes are:
Purchase of natural areas: In 2019, voters in greater Portland approved Measure 26-203, which provides $475 million to preserve natural areas, protect fish and wildlife, and improve water quality. The measure included $92 million for local parks, trails and nature projects and $40 million for community-level grants.
For 2019-20, property owners are assessed 19 cents ($0.19) per $1,000 of assessed value to pay for the bonds authorized by Measure 26-80, which are expected to be fully paid in 2026.
(This measure continues the work of a previous bond measure, approved by voters in 1995 and renewed in 2006, that enabled Metro to purchase 8,100 acres of land and more than 74 miles of stream and river frontage. The bonds authorized by that 1995 measure were fully paid in 2015 and are no longer assessed on property tax statements.)
Oregon Zoo Capital Improvements: In 2008, the region’s voters approved Measure 26-96 to provide $125 million for several improvements to the Oregon Zoo to provide more humane care for animals, protect animal health and safety, increase access to conservation education, improve water quality, and conserve and reuse water. For 2019-20, property owners are assessed 9 cents ($0.09) per $1,000 of assessed value to pay for bonds authorized by this measure, which are expected to be fully paid in 2028.
Affordable housing: In 2018, the region’s voters approved Measure 26-199 to authorize $652.8 million to fund affordable housing for low-income families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. For 2019-20, property owners are assessed 20 cents ($0.20) per $1,000 of assessed value to pay for bonds authorized by this measure, which are expected to be fully paid in 2039.