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Oregon's Special Assessment Program and the Historic Property Task Force
An Overview
Note: To read the FINAL REPORT of the Task Force and then send SHPO your comments on the report, click on link in box at right.
Oregon's Special Assessment of Historic Properties Program
Oregon's Special Assessment program, which was the nation’s first program of its kind, "freezes" property tax rates for 15 years. The intent is to encourage reinvestment in historic buildings by freezing their property tax rates at pre-restoration levels. It has been a very successful program over its 32+ years, but there have been some problems, largely due to abuses by a minority of applicants who have not followed through on restoration efforts while enjoying the benefit.
In general, the program has been in decline over the past 10-15 years, due in part to changes in property tax laws, which have made the benefit less enticing. Despite that general trend, the past few years have seen a resurgence (perhaps tied to the upswing in the economy during that period), with the exception of 2007. In 2007, a decline was seen, from 67 new projects in 2006 to 30 in 2007 (perhaps reflecting a downturn in the economy). Currently, there are a total of 845 historic properties in the state that are participating in the Special Assessment program.
Pros & Cons of the Special Assessment program
The perception among some critics is that the program is a handout to wealthy homeowners in upscale neighborhoods that are not threatened with demolition. Supporters of the program claim that abuses are rare and that modifications to the program over the years have plugged most of the holes that might lead to abuses. Regardless of one’s perspective on the issue, one key point has become evident: the program has become unwieldy and overly bureaucratic over the years due to dozens of revisions that have been made to both the statute and the rules.
Senate Bill 416
The 2007 Legislative Assembly passed Senate Bill 416, which revised the Special Assessment program by making it more restrictive, and it created a Task Force to examine the program in light of its 2010 sunset. OPRD’s Heritage Programs (State Historic Preservation Office), which administers the Special Assessment program, was charged with administering the workings of the Task Force. The revisions enacted by SB-416 were based on perceived shortcomings of the program, and the Task Force was created to not only scrutinize the program but to explore other options for encouraging and providing incentives for the preservation of significant historic buildings and sites.
Historic Property Task Force
The Historic Property Task Force is charged with examining a variety of factors related to the program and with developing recommendations for continuing the program and/or providing other incentives for historic preservation, most notably a state tax credit for restoration reinvestment. Initial recommendations from the Task Force are expected by June 27, 2008, with a final report due October 1, 2008.

FINAL REPORT and Comments Email

Read FINAL REPORT & Send SHPO your comments on the report.

Learn More About the Task Force

Senate Bill 416
Historic Property Task Force Members
Task Force Minutes-2/13/08
Task Force Minutes-4/9/08
Task Force Minutes-4/25/08
1992 Task Force Report