PORTLAND-The Oregon State Legislature gave final approval this week approved a bill that extends a state tax break on historic properties. House Bill 2270 would continue the tax break, scheduled to run out in 2002, until 2010.

The 25-year-old historic special assessment program freezes the assessed (taxable) value of a property for15 years as an incentive to maintain the historic nature of the structure. In 1995, a bill was passed giving participants another 15-year exemption, but it became mired in litigation over whether the properties should be reassessed before being frozen again.

In 1999, Gov. John Kitzhaber made his position clear, vetoing a bill that would have given the property owners the full 30 years once again. In HB 2270, it is clear that historic properties owners opting into the extended program must have their properties reassessed and then frozen.

Then again, most building owners are said to be protected from that predicament under a separate law the Legislature passed in 1999.