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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

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Commissioner Novick appoints Dr. Sharon Meieran to DOJ Community Oversight Advisory Board

The mandated Community Oversight Advisory Board will serve a critical role in ensuring that the City is in compliance with the DOJ Settlement Agreement as we work to improve the interactions between Portland Police and Portlanders experiencing a mental health crisis. As an emergency room physician, Dr. Meieran has direct experience with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. She’s been there when people in crisis are brought in by the police. She is passionate about making the system work as well as possible, and I’m pleased to appoint Dr. Meieran to board.

More information on the DOJ Settlement Agreement and the Community Oversight Advisory Board is available online: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/62044

NEWS RELEASE: Novick Endorses Advisory Vote Proposal

January 7, 2015– Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick joined Mayor Hales in endorsing the concept of sending several different transportation funding concepts to the May ballot for an advisory vote.

Commissioner Novick stated, “My concern about a public vote has been that I know that most Portlanders agree we need more money for transportation, but I’m not sure a majority can agree on any particular solution. There are people, however, who believe passionately that their favorite option would get a majority if it only went to a vote. This gives people an opportunity to campaign for their favorite options. For example, Messrs. Robert McCullough and Eric Fruits can campaign for their favorite, the gas tax. The Oregonian editorial board can campaign for its favorite, the property tax. The progressive groups, such as AARP, Oregon Walks, and the Coalition for a Livable Future, can campaign for their favorite – and my favorite too – a progressive income tax.”

Novick added that a constituent suggested the advisory vote idea in an email a few months ago. “I told her at the time it was an intriguing idea,” he said.

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Novick announces two-part strategy to fund safety and maintenance

As a year of debate over city transportation funding draws to a close, City Commissioner Steve Novick today announced a two-part strategy to ensure funding for transportation maintenance and safety priorities.

“We are proposing a revised residential user fee, with a hearing on January 8 at 6 p.m. and a vote scheduled for January 14. If that fails, either in Council or through a subsequent referral to the ballot, we will prepare to campaign for a progressive income tax in 2016,” Novick said. The proposed non-residential fee is unchanged.

The proposed user fee will vary by income, based on national statistics showing the extent to which gasoline consumption varies by income quintile. “Gasoline use is one proxy for ‘road use,’ and gasoline use varies somewhat by income level,” Novick said.

Under the proposed fee, residents in the lowest fifth of the income distribution would pay $3 a month; filers in the second fifth would pay $5 a month; residents in the middle fifth would pay $7.45 a month; residents in the second-highest fifth would pay $9 a month; and filers in the top fifth would pay $12 a month. The fee is projected to raise $23 million per year.

If the user fee fails, Novick said, he plans to propose a progressive income tax to be sent to the ballot in May or November of 2016. “What I would propose is an income tax that, for married filers, exempts the first $35,000 in income, and then applies graduated rates as follows: one-tenth of one percent of income between $35,000 and $60,000; two-tenths of one percent of income between $60,000 and $100,000; three-tenths of one percent of income between $100,000 and $250,000; and four-tenths of one percent of income above $250,000.” Such a tax is also projected to raise $23 million a year. That proposal includes a $5000 per dependent deduction and is tax deductible on the state and federal returns.

“My personal preference is for a progressive income tax, which is also the most popular option among Portlanders generally. But pursuing that option would involve a campaign that would not end until at least May, and possibly November of 2016 – which means postponing actual work to repair streets and make them safer. As the Mayor and I have repeatedly said, the longer we wait, the worse the problem gets. It seems possible that we could pass a user fee in Council that would not require a campaign, which would mean that we could get to work much sooner,” Novick said.

Table 1 shows the monthly fee that would be charged under the Residential Transportation User Fee. This proposal will be presented to the City Council at a public hearing Jan. 8.

Table 2 shows the monthly charge estimated for a residential income tax that may be introduced to voters if the Residential Transportation User Fee proposal is not approved.

Table 1: Residential Transportation User Fee proposal

Annual Income Range

Average Annual Gas Spending

Monthly Fee

≤$13,000

$1,231

$3.00

>$13,000 - $27,000

$1,850

$5.00

>$27,000 - $46,000

$2,622

$7.45

>$46,000 - $82,000

$3,284

$9.00

>$82,000

$4,071

$12.00

Notes: Income ranges apply to single filers and married or joint filers. Average Annual Gas Spending is based on national averages calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics..

Table 2: Residential Income Tax proposal

Annual Income Range

Annual Transportation Income Tax Rate

Annual Income Examples for Couples Filing Jointly

Examples of Income Tax Per Income Example

$0 - $35,000

Exempt

$35,000

Exempt

$35,000 - $60,000

1/10 of 1%

$50,000

$1

$60,000 - $100,000

2/10 of 1%

$80,000

$5

$100,000 - $250,000

3/10 of 1%

$100,000

$9

> $250,000

4/10 of 1%

$300,000

$63

Notes: A $5,000 deduction per dependent would reduce tax bill. Income ranges apply to single filers and married or joint filers, based on Adjusted Gross Income. Average Annual Gas Spending is based on national averages calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

January 8, 2015 Council Documents:

Council extends Do-Not-Buy List, maintaining policy of no new investments in Wal-Mart

Today, Council unanimously adopted two resolutions (Agenda Items #1300 and #1301) to ensure the City puts our money where our mouth is by aligning our investment decisions about corporate bonds with Portland values. 

I was surprised to learn last year that the City did not include any social or values criteria for our investment decisions. I was even more surprised to learn that the City had invested in Wal-Mart, a company that has a well-documented and troubling history of abusive labor practices, corporate corruption, and exercise of market power so as to disrupt normal competitive market forces. As a public entity, we have a responsibility not to loan taxpayer dollars to those companies that seriously violate these and the other core principles.

Two resolutions in October 2013 for the first time established social and values criteria for the City's investments. Today, we extended that commitment.

The first resolution Council adopted today renews our current Do-Not-Buy List, ensuring the City will not purchase any new Wal-Mart bonds through December 2015. Wal-Mart belongs on this list because:

  • For example, in the area of labor practices, Wal-Mart continues to resist campaigns to provide Wal-Mart employees better wages, benefits, and other protections.
  • Just this month, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Wal-Mart managers in California had illegally disciplined workers for going on strike and threatened to close a store if many of its employees joined the advocacy group OUR Wal-Mart.
  • In the area of corporate ethics and governance, the New York Times published the results of an investigation into a Wal-Mart de Mexico scheme to bribe local government officials in Mexico in exchange for fast-tracking development permits.
  • Wal-Mart also uses its market dominance to disrupt normal market forces, as detailed in the book The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman
  • Council also passed a resolution today establishing a permanent standing Socially Responsible Investments Committee. This new committee of volunteers is charged with reviewing the City's investments and the principles established by Council and recommending which companies we should add to - or remove from - the Do-Not-Buy List.

The resolution also directs the City to purchase a subscription for company-specific research reports specifically designed to support investor decisions about social- and values-based investment. These reports often include composite scoring that weighs the relative importance of individual issues and criteria. The samples I have seen are impressively thorough.

The committee's work will not be easy. The members, who will be appointed by the City Council, will need to use their best judgment to draw on the research and make recommendations about which companies should go on the Do-Not-Buy List. They must take a balanced approach, considering a company's practices as a whole rather than a single incident or issue.

There isn't a perfect Do-Not-Buy List for the City of Portland. Reasonable people may disagree about which companies should land on the list. This is, however, a community conversation that we should be having, and that is what the permanent committee process allows us to do. I know that my colleagues and I will appoint committee members who are up to the task, and I look forward to our next steps.

Commissioner Steve Novick