Eugene activist tries to file ballot initiative to repeal property tax break

EUGENE, Ore. - A Chicago-based developer won't have to pay property taxes to the City of Eugene for a decade on a $44 million, 12-story apartment complex, the City Council decided Monday night.

For developer Core Campus, that amounts to a $4.5 million tax break thanks to Eugene's Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption, or MUPTE for short. The company has offered to pay $1 million over the last few years of the property tax waiver.

MUPTEs have helped spur new and dense housing development by allowing the City of Eugene to incentivize developers with a tax break.

The program has its critics. One of them attempted to file a ballot initiative petition Tuesday that would reverse the MUPTE for Core Campus and halt the practice. A news crew observed his attempt.

Paul Conte took the paperwork to file the petition to the City Manager's office at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

No one was at the front desk. Conte waited until a staffer came out to meet him.

The city staffer told Conte he had to make an appointment to file the petition.

Conte, a local activist, said city regulations don't require an appointment.

The staffer insisted Conte needed an appointment. Conte disagreed and dropped off his paperwork and walked out.

The City of Eugene's guidelines for filing initiative petitions indicate petitioners must "submit" their paperwork. The term is not defined in the guidelines to indicate whether an appointment is necessary or not.

Conte wants to collect 10,000 signatures to put the MUPTE on the ballot. He argues that the tax break benefits out-of-town developers more than local intersts.

Conte said his proposed initiative wouldn't affect existing MUPTEs, like the one for the Capstone project under construction downtown. The measure would repeal the exemption the City Council OK'd on Monday night and prevent future tax exemptions.

This is a developing story. This story will be updated