Property Tax Statement Mailing Begins October 20; Where Does Your Money Go?

The Columbia County Finance and Taxation Department will begin mailing property owners their annual tax statements on October 20. Payments are due by November 15, 2023.

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

Columbia County will collect $98,331,192 in taxes from businesses and private landowners this year. The majority of that amount doesn’t stay in county coffers – about 9.2 percent, or roughly $9 million, goes into the county’s general fund. An additional 3.83 percent, or $3.7 million, goes to the Jail Operation Fund from the local option levy approved by county voters. A second local option for the Sheriff’s Office is new to the tax roll this year. The Enhanced Law Enforcement levy will bring in over $1.8 million and accounts for 1.92 percent of the total tax to be collected. 

General fund dollars largely pay for county law enforcement and public safety, including 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, to name a few. 

Here’s the breakdown: 

  • Schools: $45,448,307 – 46.22 percent 
  • Fire Districts: $18,038,421 – 18.34 percent 
  • Columbia County Government: $14,686,189 – 14.94 percent 
  • City Governments: $9,087,775 – 9.24 percent 
  • Special Districts: $6,982,100 – 7.10 percent 
  • Urban Renewal: $2,474,502 – 2.52 percent 
  • Drainage/Special Assessments: $1,613,898 – 1.64 percent
    • TOTAL: $98,331,192 

Tax rates vary based on the unique mix of taxing districts in a given location called a tax code area. There are 88 tax code areas in Columbia County. Your tax statement reflects the amount of tax collected for the districts providing services to your property in your tax code area. People who live in the city can often pay more than rural property owners because of the taxes that fund city parks, libraries, or local voter-approved bonds, among other benefits.

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 2023-24 Summary of Assessment & Tax Roll. The document contains a list of all agencies in the county that receive the taxes. 

The vast majority of taxes – 46 percent – goes towards education, including five school districts, one educational service district, and Portland Community College.

Fire districts receive more than 18 percent of the total. These districts cover the entire county, from Vernonia to Clatskanie to Scappoose. 

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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 2, 2024.

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