EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – The city of Eugene is suspending a big property tax program designed to help downtown building projects off the ground.
Mayor Kitty Piercy broke a tie vote on Eugene City Council Wednesday to temporarily suspend the city’s Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption program, also known as “MUPTE.”
The program provides a ten year property tax exemption to developers looking to build in downtown Eugene. Applicants have to meet certain criteria in order to be granted the tax break. Many developers say their project couldn’t have been built without the savings. Critics say the tax is being abused.
Some of the most recent projects to receive the tax break include the Westgate apartment building on 13th Avenue between Alder and Hilyard Streets. The Capstone Collegiate Communities housing project on 13th and Olive also received the tax credit. It will save Capstone an estimated $8.5 million in property taxes.
Eugene city councilor Mike Clark opposed the temporary MUPTE suspension, saying he believes it will keep developers from looking at developing in downtown Eugene for several months.
“Suspending this for four months only says, we're closed for business for four months, I don't think that's the message we should send,” said Clark.
Clark also said closing MUPTE through the spring season is like forcing developers to push their project back for a year or longer, because many developers begins building in the spring. Clark argued that a modification the program could be modified while still leaving it open.
Meanwhile, Mayor Kitty Piercy broke the tie vote to enact the MUPTE’s suspension, saying while she supports the program, she's OK with a temporary suspension if there is a definite date.
"At least this winter, we just saw one of those MUPTE projects just completed, so I don't think they are necessarily, time, season sensitive,” said Mayor Kitty Piercy.
The city will suspend MUPTE on March 29, 2013. The program will reopen for applications on July 1, 2013. By then, the city says it will bring the program back with new rules.