A “meth tax” cost the average Multnomah County, Or., household $363 last year, says a new study measuring the economic damage caused by methamphetamine abuse, says The Oregonian. Portland economists Robert Whelan and Sam Boggess of ECONorthwest, a consulting firm, studied “unnecessary economic burdens” on the community. They researched the cost of meth-related property crimes, fires, property cleanups, foster care, and health care. The total: $102.3 million.
Without more money to fight the problem, meth’s costs will seriously damage the county’s economy, the report called “The Multnomah County Meth Tax” warns. Victims of burglaries, car prowls, and identity theft paid the largest share, the economists said. In Oregon, methamphetamine fuels 85 percent of the state’s property and identity-theft crimes. Citing crime statistics, data on property losses and the average number of workdays lost by victims, Whelan and Boggess estimated that property crimes committed by meth addicts cost county residents more than $88.4 million in 2004, or $313.79 a household. People are paying a hidden tax, Whelan said, but it is “solely used to repair damage, not to build a better community.”