Personal Responsibility: ORS 267.385 authorizes districts to impose an excise tax on certain employers’ gross payroll by ordinance. If passed this bill would amend 267.385 to – in effect – remove an employee’s right to vote on a new tax or tax increase.
Fiscal Responsibility: The bill limits the expenditure of the taxes authorized to enhancing bus service frequency, acquisition of buses, bus service expansion or maintenance and operation of buses. For municipal transit agencies, the expenditures can be for both bus and rail.
Limited Government: As the law currently stands, a district may impose an excise tax on employers of up to .8% of the gross amount they pay their employees. That would come to $8 per thousand per year. This bill would allow districts to impose an additional tax on the gross income of employees of .185% or $1.85 per thousand per year.
Local Control: Proponents of this bill are primarily from rural parts of the state where communities have a need for transit service but not enough demand to make it profitable. The heavily populated I-5 corridor does not have that problem, but this excise tax would be a windfall for mass and municipal transit agencies – specifically TriMet – who are eager to push light rail through the Willamette Valley and into Washington.