When Hermiston and Pendleton 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 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 in the county 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 due to increasing property values goes directly to the urban renewal district instead of being split between the usual lineup of taxing districts. The money is then used for projects designed to increase property values in the district even further.
Hermiston’s urban renewal district began in 2013 and will wind down in 2033. Projects it has funded so far include facade grants and the new festival street next to city hall.