Knope of the Week: Chris Fick and Tom Potiowsky

Posted on June 20, 2014

ELGL green icon

Compelling. Interesting. Impressive. 


The dynamic duo of Chris Fick and Dr. Tom Potiowsky are the winners of the Knope of the Week. Chris and Tom presented findings from a recent property tax report released by Northwest Economic Research Center. Attendees at this week’s forum learned how we can continue the push for property tax reform in Oregon.

Dr. Tom received the Knope of the Week in 2012. Chris Fick was previously featured in Josh’s Job Search.

Background Check

Dr. Tom Potiowsky is the chair of the Economics Department at PSU and was the Co-Director of the Applied Economics Research Group. Tom was appointed as State Economist in 1999 through 2006 and again in 2008 through 2011.

Tom earned his PhD Economics from the University of Colorado in 1981; his MS in Economics, in 1977; and his BS in Business Administration from Ohio University in 1975.

10463002_633981403354092_5619482494572418329_nChris Fick is a tax and finance analyst for the League of Oregon Cities. He’s a native Oregonian, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon and a Master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland, where he specialized in management and finance. Prior to joining the League, Chris taught with Teach For America in rural Louisiana, and worked as an aide to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski on Capitol Hill.

What We Learned – Picture Show


World Cup or summer Olympics which do you like better?

10421110_633981163354116_4164203193402127364_nThe dream of the 90s is alive in… Oregon property tax measure 5. It was passed in 1990. Still in effect today.

Oregon residential property taxes are lower than national average.

More than half of Oregon cities are in compression, as well as 90% of all school districts.

Inequities in property tax system exist statewide, are not limited to Portland.

10351094_633994743352758_7131089229838492651_n#FunFact: The mention of a robust data sets gets people excited at forum.

League of Oregon Cities partnered with to study the OR property tax system to get a deep dive analysis of system.

study objective was to evaluate if disparity in property taxes are reflected in the sale of house

The analysis factored in sale price as well as liveability and school characteristics. Wanted an apples to apples comparison.

#NERC on sources of horizontal inequity: differences in property tax capitalization, differences in RMV growth, year built/assessed.

10450847_633995050019394_4783641383455327490_nArizona and Oregon have the most dysfunctional property tax systems in the country.

: supports reset at sale for property value.

“Building homes like nuts” term used by Tom Potiowsky. Tom admits he has no idea what that means.

When you pull a building permit and your remodel adds to the value of your home, you will be reassessed.

: Perfect information doesn’t exist.

People will go to great lengths to avoid reset at sale.

10352401_633981260020773_9212590417421692486_n“How can you figure it all out?” Good question from Tom Potiowsky on the challenges of OR confusing property tax system.

OMG Tom Potiowsky has a room of captive and we are all giggling at his awesome Econ jokes.

: The overhead projector is extinct.

Reason loves Tom Potiowsky so much: he’s smart, thoughtful and makes super funny jokes about economics.

Word on the Street


Kathy Mollusky, City of West Linn, City Recorder

Who knew Oregon property taxes could be so interesting to hear about? Chris and Tom did a great job of explaining things in a way we could understand.

Ben Kittelson, Metro, Newsroom

tumblr_inline_morpvcynYh1qzj63gChris and Tom did a great job of explaining the challenges that local governments face from Measure 50. I never fully understood the absurdity of separating assessed value from real market value and then pegging it to the 1995 value of the home. Cities across the state are still grappling with the consequences, both purposeful and unintended. Also comparing the measure to restrictions in other states showed how unique of a problem this is for Oregon. I was impressed how they took what could be a very dry topic and made it easy to understand.

Stephanie Betteridge, City of Gresham, Senior Manager, Budget and Financial Planning 

ron-swanson-dancingThe League of Oregon Cities believes that property taxes should be fair, understandable, and democratic.  Due to the implications of Measures 5 and 50, property taxes in Oregon don’t currently meet any of those criteria.

Quick Facts:

  • Oregon ranks 25th in country for residential property taxes and the average citizen pays more in State income tax than property tax.
  • Oregon is only one of two states that does not recalibrate assessed value at time of sale.  I guess it goes along with no sales tax and not pumping our own gas.

Kirsten Wyatt, City of West Linn, Assistant City Manager

tumblr_m5q72pmELp1qdvraco1_500Chris and Tom provided insightful and thoughtful remarks about a very complex subject.  I most appreciate how prepared they were for every question from the audience, and how they were able to talk about Oregon’s unique property tax system with candor, humor, and expertise.  We are lucky to have people like Chris and Tom sharing information in our state about the need for property tax reform.

Felicita Monteblanco,  Vision Action Network, Administrative and Events Coordinatortumblr_lscw449mEX1qebp82_zpsc1ee1d1a

Can’t say I truly understood the last couple slides with all the percentages, but definitely walked away with a significantly better understanding of our state’s property tax system.

Kathleen J. Rastetter, Clackamas County, Senior County Counsel

Both Chris and Tom did a great job of showing the inequities in the current property tax system under Measures 5 and 50.  Their data was easy to understand and compelling.  If they are willing to share it we can begin the tough job of educating the public on this important issue. Thanks for a great presentation!

Gulgun Mersereau, Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP, Bond Attorney and Partner 

15_roblowedanceNews to me: Oregon is not a high property tax state.

Oregon is the only state that does not adjust AV to RMV at some point.

We need to keep talking about the limitations Measures 5 and 50 impose on our governments and the inequities they produce.

Measures 5 and 50 created a system where properties with that same RMV have very different property tax liabilities due entirely to the value of those properties almost 20 years ago.

Kent Wyatt, City of Tigard, Senior Management Analyst

In the last few months, Chris and Tom have succeeded in raising awareness of property tax inequalities. Both have a clear way of presenting complicated information. I appreciated Chris outlining practical steps that everyone of us can take to help. Plus, Chris is not a Lebron which makes me a Chris fan.

Supplemental Reading


Josh’s Job Search Finds Chris Fick, League of Oregon Cities

Report: Property Tax System Unfairly Influencing Housing Market

A Report on City Property Taxes

Oregon Property Tax Capitalization

Study: Oregon’s weird property tax laws create winners

Report: Oregon property taxes uneven

Our tax system needs to be changed


Close window