When Pendleton and Hermiston residents see a new line on their November property tax statements, the Umatilla County Assessment and Taxation Department doesn’t want them to fret.
Due to a calculation error discovered by a recent audit, the urban renewal districts in Pendleton and Hermiston have never been their own line item on a tax statement.
Now it will, and Paul Chalmers, the Umatilla County director of assessment and taxation, said it shouldn’t cause anyone’s tax bills to go up.
“It’s not going to cost anyone anything more,” he said. “That’s the beauty in all of this.”
Instead of creating a new tax, the new taxing system will take small amounts from each taxing district that overlaps with the urban renewal districts — entities such as Umatilla County, the InterMountain Education Service District, and Blue Mountain Community College — and reallocate them to the urban renewal district line.
While the other taxing districts will be forgoing some revenue, Chalmers said it shouldn’t be significant and the amount of money going to each urban renewal district should be the same.
“What’s going to the urban renewal district is not compromised by this development,” he said.
Pendleton and Hermiston are the only cities that have urban renewal districts, which encompass each city’s downtown core.
Under an urban renewal district, the property tax base is “frozen” for the duration of the district. Whatever money is made on top of the frozen level goes directly to the urban renewal district instead of the usual lineup of taxing districts that claim that money.
The urban renewal district uses that revenue to fund programs and projects that are expected to spur economic development within the district like façade upgrades and small business loans. Other projects include a Hermiston festival street on Northeast Second Street and a grant program to restore historical second story spaces in downtown Pendleton.
Pendleton’s urban renewal district will expire in 2023 while Hermiston’s will wind down in 2033.
While Chalmers is the tax assessor for the county, he also is on the other side of the coin as the chairman of the Pendleton Development Commission, the governing body comprised of Pendleton City Council members that oversees the city’s urban renewal district.
Chalmers said he’s already met with the commission’s advisory committee to discuss the issue, but he has yet to inform every taxing district that will be affected by the change.
He said the assessment and taxation department will calculate the new urban renewal district figure Sept. 25, which will give the agency a better idea of how much each taxing district will lose.
Contact Antonio Sierra at email@example.com or 541-966-0836.