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Speaker: Vote yes on Measure 79

Larry Ball, who spoke on behalf of the Curry County Board of Realtors Association, encouraged voters to vote “yes” on Oregon Ballot Measure 79, and to educate the community about the measure during the September Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce forum at the Brookings Inn Resort. 

Ballot Measure 79 is an initiated Constitutional amendment that would “prohibit real estate transfer taxes, fees, other assessments, except those operative on December 31, 2009.” It will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.


A “yes” vote would “prohibit state/local governments from imposing taxes, fees, assessments on transfer of any interest in real property, except those operative December 31, 2009” according to the measure. A “no” vote would  “retain existing law prohibiting local governments from imposing real estate transfer taxes/fees (with exceptions), allowing state legislature to impose such taxes/fees.”

In other words, a “yes” vote would ban the state legislature or governor from imposing realty transfer taxes and fees; the measure is preemptive. 

A “no” vote keeps current law in place. The current law does prohibit state or local governments from imposing a real estate transfer tax or fee, but it does not explicitly prevent government entities from potentially passing such a tax in the future.

“One of the main things to understand is yes means no,” Ball said in his presentation. “A real estate transfer tax it not a new idea. … It compounds the problems that we’re already having, and with housing in particular.”

For example he said if the amendment doesn’t pass, the City of Brookings could potentially charge a 1 percent transfer tax, and Curry County could charge 0.5 percent tax, for a total of 1.5 percent. Furthermore, the taxes could be imposed by other entities, including water or sanitation departments.

“It would place an additional hardship on families seeking to become homeowners, and further place a burden on the economy of Curry County and the state of Oregon,” Ball said.

The amendment would impact homeowners, children, businesses, communities and all Oregonians, Ball added. 

Both the Curry County Board of Realtors and the Chamber support the measure. 

In a prepared statement the Chamber wrote “After studying this proposal thoroughly, it’s clear this measure will protect homeowners and businesses from what could be one of the most unfair taxes anywhere. 

“We believe a real estate transfer tax would be unfair simply because homeowners already pay a property tax. It would be unfair to those taxpayers to ask them to pay a second tax on the same property. … This measure would not take away any existing revenue from schools or local governments.”

However according to Oregon State Law 306.815, “Tax on transfer of real property (is) prohibited” with the exception of a 0.1 percent real estate transfer tax in Washington County.

Groups in support of the measure include the Oregon Association of Realtors. Groups opposed include the Oregon Business Association.

The measure was proposed after supporters of the amendment submitted about 163,000 signatures in May to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.


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