PORTLAND – Some Portland business owners are outraged at the proposal to add a citywide “road tax” that in some cases could cost thousands of dollars per year, depending on foot traffic.
The tax, proposed by Portland Commissioner Steve Novick, would cost the average household about $12 per month. But for businesses that cost could range from $50 to about $1,800 per month.
Novick and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales met with small business owners Tuesday morning to talk about the tax.
Many business owners said they simply can't afford to pay hundreds of extra dollars a month.
“I'm really upset because I looked at the bottom line, what it may cost my business,” said Gary Sargent, owner of Sargent’s Motorsports. “And I don't make that by the time I pay my health insurance for all my employees. I pay their time off now, that's required in the City of Portland. I pay, I pay, I pay, I pay. I'm going to be looking at moving my business.”
The tax would help fund improvements to streets, traffic signals and crosswalks. Those who oppose it say they understand that the city needs these upgrades, but a new tax isn't the answer.
“We know it's frustrating and we don't like raising the cost of doing business in Portland just when the economy is getting stronger,” Hales told KGW Tuesday. “Some of these small businesses are seeing better days ahead. But if we don't pay now to start fixing up our streets, we will pay a lot more later.”
Opponents of the tax also said it should at least go to a public vote.
Instead, City Council will revisit the issue and could vote on the tax in the next few weeks. If it’s passed, it would go into effect next year.
KGW reporter Ashley Korslien contributed to this report