Portland considers monthly fee for road repairs

Portland considers monthly fee for road repairs

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by Nina Mehlhaf, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 30 at 8:25 AM

Poll:
Should Portlanders pay an added fee for road repairs and safety improvements?

PORTLAND -- The annual state of Portland's roads came out Tuesday, and City Commissioner Steve Novick used the opportunity to try and gain more support for his $50 million yearly fee proposal.

According to the report, 48% of Portland's busiest streets are in "poor" or "very poor" condition, and several bridges would not withstand a major earthquake.

More: Read entire PBOT report

Novick has been touting a plan for each Portland household to pay $8 or $12 more per month, to cover costs of road repairs.  After taking public comments, he and the mayor will decide the ultimate amount.

Novick said income, property and gas taxes do little to help pay for transportation. That's why he believes the additional money would be needed for maintenance, like fixing potholes and ruts.  The fee would also be spent on safety improvements such as safety beacons on certain crosswalks and constructing 300 new sidewalks in northeast and southwest Portland.

But in a recent phone poll, only half of the people surveyed said they would agree to pay the extra money.

Other cities have imposed a similar fee without a public vote. Novick said he might do the same, because there's nowhere else to get the money.

"If we can have a conversation with everybody in Portland and say, 'Here is where the gas tax goes, here's where your property taxes go, here's where your income taxes go,' then I think you'd get that 50% now who are willing to support additional fees say, 'Ok, I'm not prepared to make huge cuts to the police force or schools or parks in order to fund transportation, so I guess we actually need to come up with more money.'"

A town hall meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, May 1st at 6:30 p.m., at Woodstock Elementary School, on 5601 SE 50th Ave. in Portland.  The public will be able to comment on the proposal.

The city council will decide in June if the public will get a chance to vote on the issue.

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