The MUPTE dance is your chance to do the - huh?

The MUPTE dance is your chance to do the - huh? »Play Video
The Capstone project at 13th and Olive in downtown Eugene on Tuesday, October 28, 2013. Photo by Tom Adams

EUGENE, Ore. - It's called MUPTE: the Multiple Unit Property Tax Exemption.

The program has exempted multi-unit housing projects in certain parts of Eugene from property taxes for a decade.

And you even if you haven't heard of it, you might be called upon to vote on it.

Activist Paul Conte is trying to qualify an initative for the Eugene ballot that would pull the plug on MUPTE and ban its re-establishment without voter approval.  

Conte argued at the Eugene City Club on Friday that the tax breaks to developers are too generous - and they don't spur the right kind of development.

"If MUPTE is going to be used, it ought to be used in my opinion to support what we need more than anything, and that's affordable housing," Conte said.

Mia Nelson from the group 1,000 Friends of Oregon argued against Conte's proposal at the debate. She predicted voters would reject Conte's initiative.

"It would fail by about the same margin as any other variation that one might care to try," she said. "Like an oregon sales tax proposal, the details are not going to matter. The answer's just going to be no."

Nelson argued the MUPTE program needs to be kept for future developments and redevelopment projects, like EWEB's riverfront property.

"That project is going to need urban renewal funds and possibly MUPTE as well if it's going to become real," she said.

Conte said look no further than the Capstone student housing center as a bad example of MUPTE tax breaks.

"That's a horrible loss of that wonderful spot that could have been showcased for generations to come," he said.

Conte said he's postponing collecting signatures on his proposal until he sees what the City Council decides on reforming MUPTE. The Council suspended the program until summer 2014 to debate possible reforms.