Arts Tax: Hales Aims to Find Middle Ground
May 14, 2013, 2:35 am
The Portland Arts Tax has been a constant headache for Mayor Charlie Hales and his staff. After making several changes to the original tax passed by voters last November, the tax is still being challenged in two lawsuits.
The school districts in Portland are counting on the money from the tax. But the mayors office is worried that they may end up holding the bag if the tax is found unconstitutional.
"If the lawsuits go against us, we will take one million dollars from the cities contingency fund, one million dollars out the RAC (Regional Arts Council), and one million dollars from the six school districts, they would have to pay us back" said Dana Haynes, a spokesperson for the mayors office.
With the city guaranteeing the schools $2 million they will be able to hire 30, out of the 45 originally planned elementary music school teachers.
Haynes said "This seemed like the best way to be true to the voters, true to the tax payers, and get these arts teachers into the elementary schools, which is what the voters intended".
Before this, RAC was supposed to get $3 million of it's own to hand out to non-profits. But now that is a thing of the past. "It is schools only, because were facing those two lawsuits and can only dish out three of the six million dollars, none of that is gonna go to RAC, it's all gonna go to the schools" said Haynes.