The East Oregonian has published several articles recently that are related. First, there was the EO article quoting Umatilla County Assessor, Paul Chalmers, who said, tax costs will be a bit higher this year. He also said that the county uses the assessed value or the real market value to determine the taxes.
I suggest that people drive around Pendleton and see how many houses have been on the market for more than six months. The tipoff is seeing the dead grass in front. Houses that are priced at market value simply do not sell. A person has to give away his or her house to generate a sale.
One is not able to get the data available to real estate agents, but according to a real estate website trulia.com, with information about Pendleton, homes decreased in value by 1.2 percent the last year. However, we had an increase in our property taxes by a similar amount.
My property tax makes me think I live in Beverly Hills 90210 rather than Pendleton 97801.
The next related article in the EO is the repeal of a law that allowed elderly people to stay in their homes. To many people, a home is their only asset. Most have increased in value since the original purchase. However, there was a program that allowed people on fixed incomes to defer paying their property taxes, allowing a person to stay in his or her home until death. Then, the house was sold to pay for the property taxes. That law has now been repealed and elderly people will be forced from their homes.
This ties in with another article in the EO about how 7 percent of the residents in Umatilla County depend on Social Security payments. This is the group that is impacted by high property taxes. Property taxes may be chump change for some residents, but they are a major hardship to many people who have lost their jobs, had their hours reduced, or live on fixed incomes.
Social Security soon will be granting its first raise in three years with an increase of $39 a month. This is hardly enough to deal with rising food prices, much less deal with an increase in property taxes.