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The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon’s (TriMet) board earlier this week approved an increase in the state's payroll and self-employment tax rate to help expand transit services in the Portland area.At the start of 2016, the employer tax rate will increase by one-tenth of 1 percent over 10 years. Revenue from the increase is expected to add $4.3 million to the agency's coffers in a year and $43 million (in current dollars) after 10 years, according to a TriMet news release.The additional revenue will go toward expanding MAX Red Line light-rail service to from Beaverton to Hillsboro, Ore., among other transit improvements outlined in the agency's 20-year service enhancement plans. These plans were created after TriMet officials met with stakeholders, businesses, residents and riders over the past four years, agency officials said."TriMet has worked hard over the past several years to put itself on solid financial footing for the long term, and along with the improved economy, must now focus on expanding service to improve access to jobs, education and give people a convenient alternative to driving," said Bruce Warner, the agency's board president.In 2009, the Oregon Legislature gave TriMet the authority to increase the employer payroll tax rate by one-tenth of 1 percent over 10 years. The agency opted not to increase the tax rate initially due to the recession, TriMet officials said.
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