Property Tax Statements to Be Mailed This Week. Where Will Your Money Go?

The Columbia County Finance and Taxation Department will begin mailing taxpayers their annual statements on October 21, 2022. Payments are due by November 15, 2022.

Property taxes pay for a number of critical services including public safety (law enforcement, fire, and emergency services), parks, schools, public transportation, public defense, elections, community justice, and a host of other vital public services. 

Columbia County will collect $93,852,753 in taxes from businesses and private landowners this year. But most of that amount does not get added to the county budget; only 9.44 percent, or roughly $8.9 million, goes into the county’s general fund. An additional 3.89 percent, or $3.6 million, goes to the Jail Operation Fund from the local option levy approved by county voters.

Tax dollars disbursed to the general fund largely pay for county law enforcement and public safety, including the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, jail operations, and the district attorney’s office. The remainder pays for general county administration, including the assessor’s office, land development services, juvenile services, and the county commission. 

More than 85 percent of property tax funds collected are distributed to local schools, cities, and special districts, such as those that manage 911 services or soil and water conservation.  The fire districts that protect the entire county, from Vernonia to Clatskanie to Scappoose, receive more than 19 percent of the total. But the vast majority of taxes (47 percent) go towards education, including five school districts, one educational service district, and Portland Community College.

Here’s the breakdown: 

  • Schools: $44,623,284 – 47 percent
  • Fire Districts: $17,594,630 – 19 percent
  • Columbia County Government: $12,509,900 – 13 percent
  • City Governments: $9,001,087 – 10 percent
  • Special Districts: $6,831,596 – 7 percent
  • Urban Renewal: $1,729,950 – 2 percent
  • Drainage/Special Assessments: $1,562,306 – 2 percent
    • TOTAL: $93,852,753

Columbia County has 91 tax code areas that are comprised of various combinations of taxing districts that serve that area. Therefore, your property’s location dictates the rate and type of taxes you pay. City dwellers can often pay more than rural property owners because of the local taxes that fund parks, libraries, or local voter-approved bonds, among other benefits.

In May of 2020, voters within the St. Helens School District boundary approved a $55 million bond to address “health, safety, building systems, and education programs” at the High School. The tax collection to pay this bond was delayed until 2022, as promised to taxpayers when the bond was approved. Taxpayers will begin seeing this on their property tax statements this year. This bond is in addition to the $49 million bond that was passed in 2016. The increase in tax for those in this district is roughly $1 per thousand of assessed value. For example, if your assessed value is $100,000, you would see an additional $100 in tax.

On the top left of your property tax statement is your code number. To see the exact charges for your specific code, go to the county Assessor’s webpage at and open the 2022-23 Summary of Assessment & Tax Roll. The document contains a list of all agencies in the county that receive the taxes.

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The county tax assessor, an elected official, regulates property taxes and bases them on the most recent property value assessment for homes, businesses, and land. For more information about your Columbia County property valuation, or if you believe your property tax assessment was unfair, contact the county Assessor’s office at 503-397-2240. All tax appeals are due to the County Clerk no later than January 3, 2023.

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