PORTLAND, Ore. As if the discussion of a street fee to fix Portland s huge backlog of transportation woes hasn t been interesting enough, now city leaders say they will discuss the idea of a sales tax.

Oregon has no state sales tax; voters have turned it down nine times at the ballot. No city in the state has an across-the-board sales tax that includes anything but unprepared foods.

Still, the city council voted 4-1 in favor of allowing the discussion of alternatives to a street fee, including a sales tax.

More: Road tax idea irks Portland businesses

Commissioner Steve Novick suggested considering a sales tax of up to 1/2 cent. It could be as low as 1/4 cent per dollar. I thought that I needed to bring up the fact that a quarter cent sales tax would be less than $12 a month, said Novick.

Twelve dollars a month is the amount most households would ultimately pay under the street fee proposal. A taxpayer advocacy group spoke out against a sales tax for the city.

When people start talking about a sales tax, watch out, because it s a tax that hurts people who are not working, disabled people and senior citizens on a limited income, said Jason Williams, the Executive Director of Taxpayer Association of Oregon.

Novick countered that a sales tax may be more equitable because people with more money spend more than people with less. And the commissioner made it clear he hasn t decided what s best. But he s willing to discuss anything that pays to fix Portland's city streets and make them safer.

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