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City auditor gets more independence, lodging tax changes approved

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Portland voters give overwhelming victories in special election to measures referred by the City Council.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Measures to make the city auditor more independent and add lodging taxes were being approved by voters Tuesday.Both Portland measures on the May 16 special election ballot easily passed Tuesday evening.

Measure 26-189, which increases the independence of the city auditor's office, was adopted with 86 percent of the vote.

"This was an inside baseball measure, but voters understood the importance of it. All the talk on the national level about the need to increase accountabililty and transparency did not hurt," Portland City Auditor Mary Hull Cabellaro said on election night. She proposed the measure, which was unanimously referred to the ballot by the City Council.

Measure 26-194, which clarifies the authority of the city to collect lodging taxes on short-term rentals, was approved with 62 percent of the vote.

The measure was sponsored by Commissioner Nick Fish and unanimously referred to the ballot by the City Council. It will ensure the city can collect lodging taxes on such new Internet-based short-term rental providers as Home Away and Airbnb.

"I think Portland voters understood this was about fairness and leveling the playing field. Out-of-state companies like Home Away should pay the same taxes as mom-and-pop bread and breakfasts," Fish said on election night.