State Freeloading From City, County?

State doesn’t pay for services from city, county – should it?

Statesman Journal

When demonstrators climbed flagpoles and raised a ruckus at the Capitol in June, Salem police provided backup to state troopers.

When a former Oregon state librarian lied about having a graduate degree on a state job application, the Marion County District Attorney’s Office handled his prosecution for forgery in May.

When a fire swept through the governor’s ceremonial office at the Capitol in 2008, the Salem Fire Department rolled out its engines.

State government might appreciate the public services provided by Salem and Marion County, but it doesn’t help cover the costs. And that’s the rub for local jurisdictions.

“They ought to be paying for some of those services because there is a major impact of those state institutions on the city budget,” said Bob Wells, who had a 33-year career in Salem city government. He rose to city manager before retiring in 2007.

Unlike employers in the private sector, the state agencies in Salem, the four prisons, and the Oregon State Hospital, pay no property taxes.

The concept of charging state government a fee in lieu of property taxes was a perennial issue during Wells’ tenure with the city. In fact, the idea continues to be brought up, off and on.

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