Portland tax breaks should require wage, employment standards, mayor says

Mayor Ethan Strimling is again proposing new requirements for companies that seek to reduce property taxes as an incentive for new development.

Posted April 14

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling is renewing efforts to require companies that receive city tax breaks to diversify their construction crews and pay a livable wage, among other things.

The proposal would only apply to projects that receive Tax Increment Financing from the city, but not all city-funded projects, such as school renovations.

“If we’re going to give tax breaks like this, we want to make sure there’s a broad community benefit,” Strimling said. “This is the starting point for the conversation. My goal is to use taxpayer money well.”

The proposal also requires crews to be paid the wages and fringe benefits established in either the state prevailing wage law, or the city’s minimum wage law, whichever is greater.
Prevailing wages are set on an annual basis by the state Department of Labor on a county-by-county basis for state construction projects exceeding $50,000.

In 2017, prevailing wages, including fringe benefits, were around $20 an hour, ranging from $13.63 an hour for a fence-setter to $91.28 for an elevator installer, according to the DOL.

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