May 27, 2014 | Portland Tribune-- Mayor Charlie Hales will ask the City Council next Thursday to approve a new street fee for all residents, businesses, governments and nonprofit organizations. Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick want the council to approve the fee without sending it to the voters for approval.
“We’ve been talking about this problem for 14 years,” Hales said at a May 22 press conference where he and Novick unveiled the proposal. “This is one of those times we need to step up and do a difficult thing.”
It is not clear a majority of the council will go along with that idea, however. And several business organizations are still deciding whether to refer it the ballot if the council acts on its own.
Shawn Miller, a lobbyist for the Northwest Grocery Association, says the organization opposes the calculations used by the city to determine how much businesses would pay. “Unless the city changes that, we will oppose it,” Miller says.
The council could vote on the fee — officially called a transportation user fee — as soon as June 4. It would take effect in July 2015 and be used for maintenance, safety improvements and other transportation needs.
The proposed fee would raise an estimated $40 million a year. A majority of the council has not yet said they will approve the fee without a vote of the public, however. Hales and Novick have already said they will vote for the fee without referring it the ballot. They have developed it together and presented
the proposal to residents, business owners and other governments within the city limits at numerous forums during the past few months.
When asked who else on the council supports the fee, Hales said he expects Commissioner Amanda Fritz to support it. A short time later, Fritz said she was surprised by the comment and has not yet made up her mind. “I agree the city has transportation needs and I’m hopeful we can come up with a package that meets them, but I am not going to make a decision before the public hearing,” Fritz said.
Fritz thinks the proposed fee for single-family households — $11.56 a month or $138.72 a year — is too high. She declined to offer an amount she could support.
Fritz, who is in charge of Portland Parks & Recreation, is also thinking about READ FULL ARTICLE