SB 543 Creates Children’s Service Districts, increases property taxes

VOTE: NO – Died In Committee

Status (overview) of bill: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Measures/Overview/SB543

Fiscal Responsibility
Allows creation of a new bureaucracy to compete for education property tax dollars and limited by constitution having the ability to cut into school funds. Requires district to discontinue a project if an action is filed claiming that any revenue of the district is subject to the $5 limitation per $1,000 of real market value under Article XI, section 11b, of Oregon Constitution. Requires petition for formation of children’s special district to be signed by greater of 10 percent or more of electors in territory or 100 electors. Organizations in support give their reason as need for funding. In addition to those concerns if the district is formed, dollars for this district would go to funding elections for board members rather than programs. While property tax dollars for education have been protected it seems in this legislation, general government services are not. Creation of a new district sharing the general government portion of our property tax system could have the effect of decreasing the dollars available for public safety, fire, and in some areas parks where those are under the auspices of cities.

Limited Government
Aligns formation and changes of organization of children’s special districts with existing special district statutes. Currently, there are 28 service districts in Oregon for issues including irrigation, parks and recreation, cemeteries and health, but there are no service districts to fund programs focusing exclusively on children and youth. This bill would change that by creating a mechanism to form these districts. A children’s service district can provide services that support children’s total health and well-being. These services must be provided outside of school hours to children younger than 18. To form a special district, a petition must be signed by 10 percent or more of electors in a territory or 100 electors, whichever is greater. If the petition threshold is reached, there would be an election to approve forming the district. This lowers the requirement of 15% in ORS 198.755. These districts can be as large or small as a community wants, encompassing a neighborhood, town, part of a county or an entire county, or multiple counties.

Local Control
Many nonprofit organizations are at risk such as Friends of the Children, The Boys and Girls Club, Family of Friends Mentoring are just a few. This may be government taking over the roll of nonprofits at taxpayer expense. It changes donations to a nonprofits as a tax deduction to a mandatory tax. This is a step towards government control of families and overlaps with the birth to high school graduation programs.

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