Portland to take up street tax today

Portland City Hall will be hearing the $423 million street tax plan today. The tax will hit homeowners,but more seriously it will hit hard small business owners. The Willamette Week noted “Yet a healthy $24.2 million””or about 5 percent of the total tax””won’t go for maintenance but for building 112 miles of new “bike boulevards.” “

Please get involved by testifying at the hearing or calling your City Commissioner (contact info below).

Tom Potter, Mayor
Commissioner of Finance and Administration
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 340, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4120
E-mail: [email protected]

Sam Adams
Commissioner of Public Utilities, Position Number 1
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 220, 97204
Phone: (503)823-3008
E-mail: [email protected]

Randy Leonard
Commissioner of Public Safety, Position Number 4
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 210, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4682
E-mail: [email protected]

Dan Saltzman
Commissioner of Public Affairs, Position Number 3
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 230, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4151
E-mail: [email protected]

Erik Sten
Commissioner of Public Works, Position Number 2
City Hall @ 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 240, 97204
Phone: (503)823-3589
E-mail: [email protected]

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Posted by at 05:15 | Posted in Measure 37 | 4 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    If we are going to fund 24.5 million dollars worth of bike boulevards, what are we going to do to make sure they are used???

    I once again state my proposal for up to a $500 Oregon State tax credit for any bike purchased that was made anywhere in the world except China. The tax credit would cover the cost of the bike up to the $500 maximum. Anyone purchasing a bike costing more than $500 would only receive the maximum $500 tax credit.

    This makes much more sense to me than tax credits for hybrids, coupons for converter boxes for old analog TV’s, etc., etc.

    To actually get people in large numbers out riding instead of driving would be the absolute best solution to many of our problems, including pollution, global warming, traffic, oil dependence, health, etc., etc. We would also need to spend less state money on roads, police, traffic signals, the DMV, etc., etc. Everything now being spent would be less if more and more people pedaled rather than drove.

    I am excited about this proposal and would suggest that we need someone from state government to step forward and get this passed. Don’t any politicians read these posts??

    I find it hard to believe that naysayers would try to put dampers on this idea. It truly is an idea whose time has come and I am not going to let it go without a fight. Won’t someone please help??

  • Bob Clark

    I attended and presented a brief testimony at the City Council “reading” today. I said I was a residential home owner in Portland and would like to see the Council refer the street fee proposal to the voters of Portland. I also pointed out property taxes just increased over 10 percent this past November, and we are facing other new taxes for fixing schools and Sellwood Bridge.

    What was interesting is some of the testimony seem orchestrated in favor of Council restricting the fee to just a Council vote. At one point, I saw Commissioner Adams conferring with a man off stage prior to the street fee agenda item. This man later testified just before me he was one of the few favoring the street fee proposal who had not been invited to give testimony. Was he really invited? Somewhat suspicious.

    Commissioner Adams has been adjusting the proposal to buy off more groups. Then the Council members say, see we are making accomodations to help you. So why would you still object, they seem to ask. To me it’s kind of like someone who attempts to rob you and when you start to resist, he says tell you what I’ll only take half of what’s in your wallet if you don’t resist. You still don’t think its fair to be robbed even if it’s only at half the normal rate.

  • Terry Parker

    The City Council also had a hearing last week on the same plan, but before the most recent revisions. The hearing however was a farce because it was yet another obvious stacked deck railroad job orchestrated by Commissioner Adams. The “public” hearing was scheduled to take place at 2:00 pm. There was a half an hour or so of city staffers describing the program, and then another hour and forty five minutes was taken by speakers that had been a part of the decision making process whom Adams invited and paraded in front of the council. Finally at about 4:15 pm subsequent to a number of people who wanted to testify leaving council chambers, the public finally had their window of opportunity to give input; but only after the mayor reduced the amount of time per person from the usual three minutes to a two minute second class citizen sound bite.

    Clearly the democratic process is broken with this process because those opposed to the proposals or portions of the proposals were not given “equal” time to present their case. Although I was able to give my written testimony to council members which they may or not read, I was unable to present the entire amount of verbal testimony I took time to prepare. My written testimony was submitted as follows:

    The proposal before you today is deceptive because it seems PDOT has plenty of money to build a proliferation of curb extensions costing 20 to 50 thousand dollars a piece, and then not enough funding to repave streets.

    The proposal is further deceptive because there is an illogical backwards priority to create more stop and go fuel consuming traffic congestion by making it difficult for trucks to maneuver, and giving rise to busses obstructing other traffic when stopping in travel lanes to board passengers, then spend more money to time signals as an attempt to remedy the congestion the curb extensions create.

    The name Street Maintenance Fee is also deceptive because NOT all the money will be used for street maintenance, On his website, Commissioner Adams lists using the funds for “a significant investment in the bicycle network” as the first key component while “repairing all the arterials in poor and very poor condition” as the last one. The proposal is again further deceptive because it appears some basic decisions were made as pre-conceived special interest back room deals with the BTA and other lobbyists to fund bicycle infrastructure on the backs of taxpayers giving bicyclists a yet another preferential treatment freebee pass.

    The proposal is both bias and deceptive because a bicycle tax was stifled out of the public conversation and kept off the table at the highly touted and tightly orchestrated town hall meetings. Providing bicycle infrastructure is NOT a right and needs to be paid for by the users. ..

    The proposal is both manipulated and deceptive because the usual suspect bicycle and transit special interest advocates on the frequently referred to and stacked deck stakeholder committee out number representatives for taxpaying motorists and motor freight carriers by three to one. The word stakeholder on the committee can only be defined as those who receive politically motivated perks and free rides, not those who must pay for them.

    In a city that prides itself for its non-discrimination policies, this proposal is none the less tax discrimination because of the huge chunk of money that is poised to pay for bicycle infrastructure, and because TriMet’s two axle busses do the heaviest damage to streets and roads; yet bicyclists and transit riders are in line to receive fee discounts on their residential utility bill tax. Further adding to the discrimination is households living in single family homes that are expected to pay more than households living in multi-unit housing.

    Sharing the road must also mean sharing the financial responsibility!!!

    Not only do bicyclists NOT pay their own way for the specialized infrastructure they use, they continually blame others never accepting responsibility for their own safety failures and mishaps. The majority of bicyclists, including many city employees, arrogantly ignore traffic control devices including not stopping at stop signs and blowing through red lights. This demonstrates a pattern of total lack of accountability and irresponsibility on the part of the bicycling community.

    How can any of you annually increase sewer rates, horrendously increase garbage and recycle rates, support adding this deceptive and discriminatory tax to utility bills, and then sit around a table with a straight face and discuss how to achieve affordable housing. Utility bills are part of housing costs.

    Several mandates need to take place here for this tax to become equitable: It is time the freeloading pedal pushers pay their own way with a bicycle tax instead of being subsidized by with housing costs. All households must be charged an equal rate. All immunities and discounts (except for low income) must be eliminated. And finally, all the money raised must go only for street repair and maintenance, not for special privilege sugar daddy bicycle and transit subsidies. This is a user tax, not a socialistic means to dictate how people travel or what type of housing they live in. Anything less than these equity mandates requires this tax as is must either be rejected, otherwise be challenged in court, go to a vote of the people or both.

  • Dave Lister

    We are all already paying a street maintenance fee.

    Sam Adams needs to give a full accounting of where the sixty five million collected in the utility franchise fees is being spent. In 1988, Mayor Clark and the council passed an ordinance allocating 28% of that revenue to street maintenance. It logically should go to street maintenance because the utility companies need the infrastructure to access their pipes, poles and lines. That is the street maintenance fee we are already paying on our utility bills. I just paid my comcast bill and there was $3.49 collected for the city’s utility franchise fee. Clark’s allocation would have put 97 cents of that to road maintenance exclusively. Multiply that by every Portland ratepayer and every utility company and you have a bundle of money.

    The 28% allocation was diverted from PDOT to the general fund during the second year of Vera Katz’s first term as mayor. I do not know if Adams was her chief of staff at that time.

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