Gas tax ballot measure headed to Bend voters

Central Oregon residents will decide the fate of a tax to raise money to fix roads.

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Bend residents will decide the fate of a 5-cent gas tax intended to raise money to fix roads.

The city council approved sending the measure to voters Wednesday.

While the per gallon rate was up in the air going into the meeting, it’s been clear since the summer that a majority of the council believes a tax is needed to address the city’s crumbling roads. The 5-cent rate will be tied for the highest city fuel tax in the state, though a minority of councilors also supported a 10-cent rate. Those councilors who backed proposing the tax to voters have argued a new revenue stream is needed to supplement the city’s property tax rate, which is one of the lowest in the state. If approved, voters would need to reauthorize the gas tax in 2026.

City staff says roads are $80 million and five years of work away from being in good shape. With the input of an appointed advisory committee, the city devised a funding package that won’t quite get roads to good, but will push them to good enough.

(READ MORE: Bend Bulletin)

The final vote was 5-2.

Councillors discussed the option of including the measure on the ballot during the May primary, which would be less expensive for the city than a special election. But the councilors who support the measure said that street maintenance needs are urgent enough that the fuel tax warrants a special election.  

If voters approve the measure, Bend would be among 22 Oregon cities that impose a gas tax.


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