City Club pushes for Portland streets funds

Commissioner Steve Novick applauds report that calls for voters to approve a gas tax.

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Commissioner Steve Novick applauded a City Club report that calls for voters to approve a gas tax to fix Portland’s ailing streets.

The report called for immediate action.

The report by a member-volunteers Street Fee Research Committee also says the council should immediately devote more existing revenue to the streets, and implement other fees to raise funds for them, including a commuter payroll tax on out-of-state workers, and new parking permits and fees. And, the report says, the city should lobby the Oregon Legislature for authority to charge a weight-and-value-based vehicle registration fee and pursue a “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) fee, too.

“There is no silver bullet. No single source of revenue will solve Portland’s transportation funding problem. An immediate infusion of cash from the current budget surplus and general fund will stave off some deterioration; a city gas tax could cover the bulk of routine maintenance costs; and commuter payroll taxes and parking permits and fees could provide a small amount of additional revenue,” reads the report, which will be presented to the longstanding civic organization for consideration and a vote at its weekly Friday lunch forum.

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)

Find the report here.

“No one funding source will raise enough money for maintenance and safety,” Committee Chair Jennifer Rollins said in a news release. “Stakeholders must come together to develop a compromise, multifaceted funding plan that will ensure Portland has the infrastructure it needs for the future.”

The Street Fee Research Committee’s conclusion is simple: The longer Portland puts off finding a funding solution, the more it will cost to repair city streets later.

A majority of the committee agreed to not recommend a transportation utility fee that would charge flat fees to households and variable trip-related fees to businesses.

(SOURCE: Portland Business Journal)

The Portland Business Alliance appealed to Novick about a gas tax, as well, but they pushed for business-positive reform.

“In the current budget allocation, the city found additional one-time revenue for transportation maintenance and safety improvements,” wrote, Sandra McDonough, the Alliance’s president and CEO, who noted that the PBA is willing to discuss a gas tax or another user-based tax as long as it is part of a broader transportation package.

“This is a good first step but, again, if this is a priority, the city should find ongoing resources to bolster maintenance and safety projects. If voters are being asked to support an ongoing increase in taxes, the city should also pledge its ongoing support to the city’s road network with their financial resources as well.”

(SOURCE: Portland Business Journal)

Novick has said he wants to “explore every possible option.”

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