PORTLAND -- The Portland City Council has been getting an earful from many people who are upset about a new street fee that would be added without a public vote.
After listening to these concerns, Commissioner Steve Novick released a statement on Thursday that confirmed a council vote on the fee for business owners will be delayed.
The residential fee will still be put up for a vote in early June as planned. But the mayor's office on Thursday also confirmed a slight change: The proposal now calls for an $6 a month fee at first, which would climb to $9 then second year and the original $12 the third year.
“The business / nonresidential fee is inherently more complicated than the residential fee,” Novick explained. “What we plan to do, as other cities have done, is base the nonresidential fee on the Institute of Traffic Engineers’ ‘trip generation’ model.”
This ITE formula estimates how many vehicle trips a given property generates in order to assess fees.
"This does not mean that we are planning to have a fee for residents but no fee for businesses; in fact, we are putting language in the residential fee ordinance that says that if the Council does not pass a nonresidential fee by this November, the residential fee will be canceled," Novick added.
The cost for most homeowners would eventually add up to around $140 a year. Owners of businesses, schools, churches and other institutions could pay a lot more, possibly thousands of dollars a month. The controversial fee would generate roughly $50 million a year for road repairs and maintenance.
Dana Haynes, a spokesman with Charlie Hales' office, said the mayor still remains steadfast on his plan to move forward with the fee, but agreed that parts of it need some adjustments.
"We've got to do this, we've got to have a fee to take care of our roads," Haynes said. And, "Everybody should pay."
The Portland City Council will listen to citizens’ opinions on the street fee during a public hearing scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at City Hall.
Many local business owners have already said that they vehemently oppose the fee. More were expected to speak at Thursday's meeting.
“My hope would be that we could slow down and get a public vote,” said Brian Alfano with Venture Portland. “This is a big decision. It’s big for our city, big for our citizens and big for businesses.”
While the mayor and Novick fully support the plan, Commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Salzman have said they want to see the matter put to a public vote before it can be implemented. Amanda Fritz said she’s undecided at this time.
The fee would take effect on July 1, 2015 for both homeowners and business owners, if passed by the council.
KGW Staff Tim Gordon and John Tierney contributed to this report.