Should Portlanders pay a $35 annual fee to fund kids art and music programs?
PORTLAND -- The sound of music has been silenced for many students across Portland.
"Whole schools have no arts and music," said Jessica Jarratt Miller with Portland's Creative Advocacy Network (CAN). And to her, that's just unacceptable. "For just $35 we can fix this problem."
CAN, a group created by Portland's mayor, has suggested a fee of $35, once a year, billed to anyone over 18 living in Portland in order to fund art and music programs.
"We know that access to arts and music increases graduation rates, improves test scores, inspires our kids," Miller added.
CAN's idea would raise an estimated $12 million per year. Half of that money would pay for art and music teachers in Portland elementary schools, the rest would be funneled to local art non-profits.
The Portland City Council could vote on it as early as this month, in order to get the idea on the ballot come November. It wouldn't include anyone living at or below the federal poverty level.
CAN said cities across the country are getting creative with ways to fill the gaps, "In Cleveland, it was a cigarette tax. In San Francisco, a sales tax. Denver has passed something. Seattle has passed something. This is happening all over the country," Miller said.
"It's been very successful," said Steve Jung who runs the downtown Embassy Suites in Seattle.
That city also put on a tourism marketing blitz and now Portland wants in on the action. Portland city leaders have recommended a hotel tax to pay for tourism marketing. Room rates would go up for most hotels.
The tax would apply to hotels with more than 50 rooms, with a 2 percent increase charged to overnight guests. That's about $2-4 a night but a collection of $6 million a year in revenue that could go towards advertising.
"On the Internet, we'll have billboards, we'll have bus wraps," explained Jeff Miller with Travel Portland.
"We'll be able to create campaigns that will really drive demand to Portland in our neighboring markets like Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, BC, and Spokane."
The first reading will be at Wednesday's city council. If passed, it would go into effect in October.