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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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Portland Mercury: Steve Novick Will Look to a Monthly Fee to Solve PBOT's Funding Woes

April 10, 2014 | Portland Mercury-- If there were still any doubts about how city leaders want to inject new money into Portland's underfunded transportation system, they were just obliterated.

Flanked by sundry charts, and with a projector flashing more behind him, transportation Commissioner Steve Novick told reporters this afternoon that the city's taken the pulse of the public... and the public sort of supports monthly "street maintenance and safety fees."

According to polling carried out from March 27 to April 1, Portlanders are roughly split on kicking in $8 or $12 per household. And polled participants grew more enthusiastic for the proposal when told what it might go to fund— things like street maintenance, safety improvements, bicycle infrastructure, and potentially non-City of Portland projects like transit and seismic retrofits for a county bridge—according to John Horvick, a staffer at DHM Research, which carried out the 800-person poll.

Still, it's hardly a groundswell of support. Even when keyed in to all the desirable ends more transportation funding could achieve, only a bare majority of 52 percent support an $8 monthly fee per household. A $12 fee garnered 51 percent support.

Novick said the split may be a sign Portlanders don't hear enough about transit funding (though both he and Mayor Charlie Hales have relentlessly pressed the issue since Novick took over the Portland Bureau of Transportation last summer).

"What that tells us is there hasn’t been as much discussion in this community about having enough money for transportation as there has about not having enough money for schools," Novick said, apparently referencing a schools bond voters passed in 2012.

Novick says a street fee isn't his preference—he'd like to toy with income tax rates to find more money—but that he's convinced by the poll such a fee is the most-palatable option. He explained dozens of cities in Oregon had instituted similar policies.

But Horvick made clear that the poll was heavily focused on a street fee, only asking about other potential funding mechanisms—income and sales tax changes—briefly, and toward the end. (Results from a previous poll asking about a READ FULL ARTICLE