PORTLAND -- The Portland City Council will wait until November to vote on both the residential and the business part of the proposed street fee, commissioner Steve Novick announced Tuesday.
Mayor Charlie Hales said he and Novick need more time to figure out how to structure the fee scale before it will be ready to go up for a formal vote. But he reiterated that the delay definitely does not mean they're giving up on the idea.
“We have not taken care of our largest asset: our streets. We have to change that,” Hales said. “We’ve been talking about this for 13 years and we held several town halls this winter and spring to hear from people. Despite that, many constituents still haven’t been heard yet. We get that. Postponing the council vote will give people time to weigh in on whether this is the best solution to this dire need and to consider changes to make it work better."
A previous draft of the fee structure recommended that homeowners pay $6 a month at first, with the cost eventually climbing to $12 a month, or 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. The mayor said the council will still vote on a charter change Wednesday, which would show voters that any money collected through the fee could only be used for "transportation purposes." This change in the charter could in turn, end up on the November ballot.
Background: Street fee could cost $138 a year or more
While Hales and Novick fully support the plan, commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman 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 homeowners and business owners, if passed by the council in November.
KGW Staff Tim Gordon contributed to this report.