By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: Corrected context for tax rate measure

I hate making mistakes in print … even one that almost no one notices.

However — and this should be no surprise — Mark Davis noticed, and let me know. So, since correction of published errors — sometimes itself complicated — is a fundamental newspaper responsibility, here goes:

Last week’s column exposed my misunderstanding of the ballot title approved for a property tax measure filed by city Councilor Chris Chenoweth and former council candidate George Humlie. I thought they intended to seek voter approval of a fixed reduction for the city’s general fund property tax rate.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

We knew that Chenoweth would add conservative credentials to council deliberations when we endorsed his 2020 council campaign. So, it was easy for us to think he wanted to fix the tax rate at $3.52 per $1,000 unless subsequently increased by voters. That, after all, is the former fixed rate of $5.02 minus $1.50 per $1,000 the city saved when voters created McMinnville Fire District.

Not so.

The intent is exactly what the ballot title wording suggests: A reduced property tax rate that could be increased by voters, but which otherwise would automatically increase 3 percent per year until it reaches the city’s legal limit of $5.02.

That would take 13 years. It’s a much slower phase-in than favored by other city officials, but it is a phase-in. And along the way, general fund tax revenues would rise about 8 percent per year, with fluctuations, because a rising tax rate would be applied to increasing assessed property values.

I might simply call this a clarification. But even if most people didn’t recognize the mistake, it was an error nonetheless. Besides, I wouldn’t want to disappoint eagle-eyed Mark Davis, who unlike me, believed what he read in the proposed ballot title.

So much for the correction, and now a brief proposal to Chenoweth and Humlie:

If you get the 3,540 value voter signatures needed to produce an election, you should write and submit for publication a full-blown commentary on why you think voters should support your measure. We likely will find someone to argue the other side; readers will wade in with a cross-section of comments; people will talk among themselves; and we all will see a bit of democracy in action.

That’s one of the reasons we have a community newspaper. By the way, if you want to help sustain that newspaper, take a look here next week.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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