Portland voters impose a 1% “clean energy” tax on large and big-box businesses.
And are then outraged that those businesses pass the costs on to customers.
Terry Wiesner stared down at his Safeway grocery store receipt in confusion in mid-September after he noticed being charged an extra 3 cents for buying a package of $2.99 napkins. The 3 cent charge was listed as a tax.
He called over a store attendant while still in the self-checkout line at the Southeast Woodstock Boulevard branch and asked about the charge. The worker pointed to a laminated sign nearby.
Portland instituted a voter-approved clean energy surcharge in January, imposing a 1 percent tax on paper products, wine, beer, household items and other products, the sign said. The surcharge began appearing on Safeway customers’ receipts on Sept. 9 and people should contact the City of Portland if they had any concerns, according to the notice.
“I didn’t remember voting for any kind of tax,” said Wiesner, 74. “I later learned that this was meant to be a tax on businesses, not the people. Frankly, it just made me angry. It wasn’t about the 3 cents, it’s about the spirit of this charge and how it’d been passed off to me.”
To be fair, it’s entirely possible this has been passed off as something that’d “just affect business”; Portland, like Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Duluth and now Rochester, is run by people who’ve never worked outside public employment, non-profits or academia.