View Full Version : Transportation Development Tax Discounts (ie, LESS ROAD MONEY) also discussed at CPO3

09-24-2011, 04:21 PM
Along with the Fanno Creek and 86th Pump station expansion, the 9/15/2011 Citizens Participation Organization 3 (CPO3) discussed a transportation development tax discount. The TDT is the fee they charge developers because the new development generates more traffic. More traffic means we need more roads.

So a discount TDT means LESS MONEY FOR ROADS.

That concerns bicyclists because we are road users who are already subsidizing other transportation modes through our property and other taxes. And, yes, you pay property taxes even if you don't own property. Your landlord pays them for you.

I found some information on this by googling for "washington county transportation system development charge discount". Here's a link I found, eventually: http://www.co.washington.or.us/LUT/Divisions/LongRangePlanning/PlanningPrograms/TransportationPlanning/upload/WCCC-PG-Packet-090711.pdf

The CPO3 chair explained that the reasoning behind the TDT discount was that since new development in Washington County had slowed to almost nothing, discounting the fees charged would help spur more development, more construction jobs, etc.

It seems to me that a discounted TDT means more money for developers and less money for the rest of us Washington County taxpayers because we then have to make up the slack. We're already chronically behind in new road construction. We don't need to make that worse by charging reduced fees to new development which is going to generate more traffic. The real reason development has slowed to a crawl is that the economy is doing poorly, except for the richest among us, including some of those developers. Reducing taxes only funnels more money to them from the rest of us.

Along with the letter I'm writing to my Washington County Commissioner about the Fanno Creek sewage pump expansion (see my other article from today in this sub-forum) I'm going to write of my opposition to discounting the TDT. The county board's web page is: http://www.co.washington.or.us/BOC/Commissioners/index.cfm

09-24-2011, 08:37 PM
"...We're already chronically behind in new road construction. ..." setha

And maintenance, which is why roads in the county have been getting substandard chip-seal treatment rather than the smoother, easier to ride and drive asphalt top seal.

I don't know that more money developers would earn by a TDT, is the bigger problem here. Developers aren't developing, because the potential for making profit has diminished. Getting them to resume developing, so everyone can make money is the objective of the TDT. Which doesn't necessarily mean discounting the TDT is a good idea. I can't personally say I understand the entire equation, to say for sure, one way or another.

The bigger problem, seems to me to be the long popular form of expanding development over previously undeveloped land, rather than on already developed land within existing development boundaries. This kind of development requires expanding the road infrastructure; more miles of roads to build and maintain....which the money no longer exists for.

This is why I'm hoping people will direct more of their attention to understanding Beaverton's plans for attracting private development to Central Beaverton, through infrastructure improvements hoped to be made to that neighborhood through the Urban Renewal concept. Through those plans, if the walking-biking crowd were given a much more than typical encouragement, through the provision of grand thoroughfares specifically for walking and biking across Central Beaverton, perhaps that could reduce the road construction and maintenance costs that development TDT's are needed for.

Development TDT discounts for urban renewal areas might be something to consider, but for land hoped to be developed that are outside that area, or especially from undeveloped lands, drawn from rural reserves outside the UGB...I'd be hesitatant to support that.

09-30-2011, 06:31 PM
Here's the text that I put into the County Commissioners' comment form, at http://www.co.washington.or.us/BOC/CitizenInquiry.cfm?com=Andy%20Duyck (you can direct your comment to all of the Commissioners by clicking the drop down menu at the bottom of the form and selecting "All Commissioners.)

I'm writing to voice my opposition to the proposed transportation development tax (TDT) discount. I heard about this proposal at the CPO3 meeting on 9/15/2011.

As was discussed at the meeting, the reasoning behind a TDT discount is that new development in Washington County has slowed to a crawl. Discounting the fees charged would help spur more development and more construction jobs.

It seems to me that a discounted TDT means more money for developers and less money for the rest of us. How? More development which does not pay for the additional transportation demand it generates means that the rest of us property taxpayers have to make up the difference. Washington County is already chronically behind in new road construction. We don't need to make that worse by charging reduced fees to new development which is going to generate more traffic demand. The real reason development has slowed to a crawl is that the economy is doing poorly, except for the richest among us, including some of those developers. Reducing taxes only funnels more money to them from the rest of us.

Please vote no on the TDT discount.

09-30-2011, 06:34 PM
Andy Duyck is the Washington County Commission Chairman. He wrote back in reply to my comments:

I received your email about the changes contemplated for the TDT. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with your assessment. It is easy to demonize the businesses that actually provide the jobs and housing we need. I'm not sure where this line of thinking comes from. It certainly wasn't contemplated by our founders. As a business owner of 28 years who was within months of losing everything because of the recession and burdensome taxes, I am appalled at the immediate inference that business owners don't pay their fair share.

Let's talk TDT. The TDT was implemented just before the recession as a massive tax increase on housing and businesses. At the same time, the fuel tax paid by the public has not only not been adjusted for inflation, but is paid by fewer and fewer people due to hybrids and fuel efficiencies. Businesses continue to pay a weight/ mile tax which is substantially higher. Not only that, but businesses pay a huge amount of personal property tax which individuals do not pay! They also pay the trimet tax based on their payroll, which massively subsidizes the system. Then, when we talk about the smaller proportion of services businesses use, it is obvious that we owe a debt of gratitude for every business out there!
I bristle at the class warfare that I hear. What we need is more people creating jobs and being rewarded for it by keeping more of what they worked for, not less.

As an aside, I might also add that what the Board is considering is not a roll back of the TDT, but a holding of the rate until things improve. I support such a prudent move.

Andy Duyck

09-30-2011, 11:03 PM
Andy Duyck is the Washington County Commission Chairman. He wrote back in reply to my comments:

I'm not a great fan of Duyck and some of his ideas involving urban reserves/rural reserves, but it's not lost on me that he's a smart guy.

I kind of figured when I read your letter, that it could easily be perceived as confrontational, and not understanding of the struggle to survive that business faces. At least he wrote you back.

10-09-2011, 10:54 PM
A Friday, Oct. 7 story on Oregonian story on the TDT:

Washington County may delay final increase in transportation development tax/The O/Dana Tims (http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2011/10/washington_county_may_delay_fi.html)

I'd like to post a few excerpts to give a suggestion of where statements printed in the story describe and discuss the situation posed by the local economy to development. It seemed too difficult to do that effectively in a succinct way, so...I'll just leave it to everyone reading to follow the link and either check out the story and what it says, or not.

Basic problem, is that the TDT can, and (seems to have already had a part in) add enough to a developer's (apparently, as well as other people that would like to make improvements to structures.) costs, that it can cause them to withdraw their proposals. Consequently, money, anticipated to, hoped to...come from developers to help build and maintain roads, has dropped way below expectations.

A bad sign I see from a comment made in the story, indicates to me that development of the old familiar order is still very much present:

"...Jonathan Schlueter, executive director of the Westside Economic Alliance, said he is straddling the fence on the issue. Though agreeing with the business-friendly view that there is never a good time to increase taxes, he is also mindful that the TDT -- a one-of-a-kind entity among Oregon's 36 counties -- has played a crucial role in keeping ever larger numbers of trucks and commuters moving. ..." O/dana tims

The willingness to mover evermore numbers of trucks and commuters (presumably by car, and not by their own muscles...walking or biking.), over great distances created by the prevalent development model, is partly why or road and street infrastructure has become so extensive and expensive to maintain.

12-13-2011, 08:57 PM
This month's CPO3 newsletter had an article about the Transportation Development Tax. From that article:

...Due to ongoing economic weakness, the business and development communities have requested that the Board of Commissioners consider delaying the phase-in of the full TDT rates. Concerns have also been expressed about the TDT’s impact on economic development—particularly on so-called ‘changes of use’ where a business locates in an existing building but is subject to the charge because the new use is anticipated to generate more traffic than the prior use.

The WCCC (Washington County Coordinating Committee, consisting of elected representatives from the County and each of our cities) reviewed these issues and recommended that the Board of County Commissioners extend the current discounted TDT rate for a minimum of one year – in other words, to keep the current TDT rates until at least July 1, 2013.

The WCCC and Board are continuing discussions on potential options for addressing ‘change of use’ concerns. The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to hold a public hearing on these issues at its January 3, 2012 meeting at 10:00 a.m. in the Shirley Huffman Auditorium in the Public Services Building, 155 N First Ave, Hillsboro.[Emphasis added.]

The TDT is not a property tax. The developer/property owner is required to pay the charge when a building permit is issued. Because the tax is assessed only on development, the proposed changes would have no impact on most residents. However, potential reductions in TDT rates would likely result in some reduction in overall TDT revenues.

For More Information:
E-mail: lutplan@co.washington.or.us
Phone: Contact Steve L. Kelley in the Department of Land Use and Transportation’s Long Range Planning division at 503-846-3519.

12-13-2011, 11:27 PM
"Can we set a minimum mental capacity for elected officals?"

Ultimately our "smart" civil servants need to understand and become at peace with the fact that we can't build our way out of debt. That the more we build, the more debt we will have pointed at our heads like the sword of Damocles.

In How Suburban Sprawl Works Like a Ponzi Scheme (http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2011/10/suburban-sprawl-ponzi-scheme/242/) we can see in plain numerical economic truth that our previous 4 generations' "wisdom" of "Growth Will Solve Everything! :) " has reached the end of its ability to sustain our way of life.

In a way we have been like a horde of nomadic warriors in America for the last few decades: growing strong off of raids on neighbors, taking what was not ours.
The spoils of war that America has prospered upon is our own future.

Beyond the accusations that we are mortgaging our childrens' future we have spent the last 65 years painting ourselves in to a corner, blindfolding and singing loudly to ourselves so as to join in on the methamphetamine and heroine party of profit before anything.

It doesn't matter whether I think we deserve what comes to us for all this; I take solace in the good probability that the CRC and similar wasteful spending willl grind to a halt when the tax coffers do.