PORTLAND -- The City of Portland is pushing the pedal to the metal, on a street maintenance and safety fee.
Voters will not get to choose. Instead, the Portland City Council has the power to decide whether the fee should be implemented. Mayor Charlie Hales supports the idea and said he thinks the council votes are there to make it happen.
The Transportation User Fee could start as soon as July 1, 2015 and would be paid for by residents and business owners. The money, about 50-million dollars a year, would go toward a backlog of paving projects, along with signal light, crosswalk and sidewalk improvements.
The fee breaks down like this: Most people would be charged $11.56 a month per household. Low-income residents and apartment dwellers would be charged slightly less. Businesses and other institutions, including churches and schools, would pay a modified fee, based their size. Portland residents who own small businesses would get a discount.
Supporters said they know added fees are never popular, especially without a public vote. But something has to be done to cover the costs of these vital street projects.
“We don’t think that it’s responsible to step back and say ‘We won’t address the problem at all.’ And if the voters are that mad at us, were both up for re-election in 2016, so they can throw us out,” said commissioner Steve Novick.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz told KGW just before noon Thursday that she still has not decided how she’ll vote. She has concerns about the costs to taxpayers.
A public hearing has been scheduled for next Thursday on the issue and then the council vote was expected to follow, on June 4.
KGW reporter Tim Gordon contributed to this report.