County approves property tax break for families of fallen officers

August 4, 2016

Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman thanked the board for their support of spouses of fallen public safety officers. Also pictured, Multnomah County Assessor Michael Vaughn.

The Board of Commissioners Thursday voted to provide property tax exemptions to surviving spouses of public safety officers.

“In communities across the nation, our first responders increasingly face complex and difficult jobs,” said Commissioner Judy Shiprack, who sponsored the resolution. “Death in the line of duty is something their families understand is a possibility every day but something I don’t think anyone can prepare for fully.”

The resolution comes after state legislators passed a bill allowing county governments to waive up to $250,000 in assesses property value for property owned by the surviving spouse of an officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty.

“Alleviating some of the financial burden to a slain officer’s family is a small appreciation from us, indeed,” Shiprack said, and “one we can easily and more importantly quite fittingly provide.”

Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman thanked the commissioners for supporting local law enforcement. He said three officers in Portland had been killed in his 25 years on the force, Thomas Jeffries, Colleen Waibel and Kirk Huffstetler.

“They paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve the city of Portland,” he said. Their families are left to struggle not only with grief, but a financial burden as well. “This would send a powerful message of support to local officers, who continue to do their job under increasingly difficult circumstances.”