School bond and tax elections in Oregon

School bond and tax elections in Oregon happen under two circumstances:

  • Exceed the constitutionally protected property tax cap.
  • Issue new bonds.

Laws affecting school finance

Oregon bond issue law

Under Oregon law, any school district must have a ballot question to the district's voters in order to issue new bonds. Oregon allows bonds to be issued depending on how a school board calls for the bonds to be used specifically written via the resolution approving the bonds.[1]

All bonds cannot exceed 13 percent of a district's total outstanding debt.[2] The County Treasurer is the custodian of all bonds issued to school districts in the respective county and the terms of each bond varies as far for selling value and restrictions are dependent on the resolution approved calling for an bond issue referendum.[3]

Oregon property tax cap

The Oregon Constitution mandates a property tax cap for all classes of property in the State of Oregon. Property tax increases under the cap are limited to three percent. Under the Constitution, this goes into affect for all property tax increases after 1997.[4]

Oregon requires a ballot measure if a school district seeks to exceed a levy, to fund pension and disability obligations for a school district or to exceed or reduce the property tax levy as part of the mandated property tax cap that is constitutionally protected.[5]

Oregon is one of a handful of states that protects a debt limit through the Oregon Constitution.

Oregon mill rate

School boards can levy taxes at a mill rate not exceeding the statutorily prescribed mill rate for a period not to exceed five years; however, a petition may be filed by electors in the district on the question of whether the tax should be levied.

Conduct of election, rules, limitations

Authority overseeing elections

The City or County clerk is responsible for overseeing elections dependent on which level the ballot measure qualified is addressed to. The city clerk is responsible for one municipality while the county is responsible for the election if the ballot measure is county-wide.[6]

Election dates

Any election involving the Oregon Property Tax Cap must be held during a even numbered year.[7] All other elections must be held during the same time as a statewide general or primary election.[8]

Needed majority

Oregon has a unique super-majority requirement for all elections involving the constitutionally protected Oregon Property Tax Cap Act in that in order for ballot measure to pass, 50 percent of the district's registered voters must show up regardless of the margin of victory in election. All other elections require a simple majority vote including bond issues.[9][10]

Special elections

A district elections authority can call for a special election to be held only on the second Tuesday in March, the third Tuesday in May, the third Tuesday in September, or the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Special elections may be held on a date other than the allowed dates if the district elections authority via a approved resolution finds that a election needs to be held as soon as possible to finance repairs to property damaged by fire, vandalism or a natural disaster.[11]

Wording of measures

Under Oregon law, all ballot measures must have a caption of not more than 10 words to headline the measure, a question of no more than 20 words that lists the purpose of the ballot question, a concise and impartial statement of not more than 175 words summarizing the measure and its major effect, along with a response of "I Vote Yes" or "I vote No."[12]

Required notice of bond election

61 days notice is required before any election involving a referendum at the state or local level can occur.[13]

See also

External links


  1. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Bond Issue Law (Referenced Section 255.085)
  2. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Bond Issue Law (Referenced Section 450.900(3))
  3. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Bond Issue Law (Referenced Section 450.920)
  4. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Constitution (Referenced Research Report # 5-99)
  5. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Constitution (Referenced Research Report # 5-99)
  6. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Election Code (Referenced Statute 254.005(2)-(c))
  7. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Election Code (Referenced Section 254.056 and 254.035)
  8. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Election Law (Referenced Section 250.036)
  9. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Bond Issue Law (Referenced Section 450.915)
  10. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Special District Law (Referenced Statute 255.345)
  11. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Election Law (Referenced Section 250.005)
  12. "Oregon Legislature" Oregon Election Code (Referenced Statute 254.095 (1))

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