Splendid Cycles Big Sale

City’s new ‘Street Fund’ proposal would raise $46 million a year

Posted by on November 10th, 2014 at 12:54 pm

streets-lead

PBOT Director Leah Treat, Mayor Hales, and Commissioner Novick at this morning’s press conference.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

At City Hall this morning Mayor Charlie Hales, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and PBOT Director Leah Treat unveiled their latest proposal to raise new revenue for transportation. The “Portland Street Fund” would raise $46 million for maintenance and safety projects through a mix of business fees and personal income taxes.

The Street Fund strategy comes after their initial proposal back in May for a transportation user fee was met with a lot of criticism (especially from the business side of the equation). That idea would have slapped a flat fee on every household and would have charged businesses a fee based on a trip-generation algorithm.

Mayor Hales says the new proposal is “More humane and tolerable.” “No one likes taxes,” he said at this morning’s press conference, “But these are fair, reasonable, and bearable.”

Taxes from individuals will be based on income. Here’s a sample breakdown:

  • A couple making $40,000 to $60,000 will pay $5 a month.
  • A couple making $60,000 to $75,000 a year will pay $7.50 a month.
  • A couple making $75,000 to $100,000 will pay $10 a month.

There’s also a $5,000 deduction available per child, so some people could move into a lower bracket after adjustments. And because this is a local income tax, the payments will be deductible on state and federal income tax forms.

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PBOT Commissioner Novick said this proposal reflects his goal of protecting not just lower-income Portlanders but the middle-class as well. “We’re asking richer people to pay more in order to allow the middle-class to pay less.”

The new proposal also handles the business fee much differently than before. Instead of basing the businesses tax on real estate with a complicated trip-generation and land-use algorithm, the Street Fund will attach a new fee onto business licenses. The fees will be between $3 and $144 per month (with a 50% discount to non profits and an exemption for government agencies). The amount a business pays will be based on a combination of three factors: number of employees, square foot of business, and gross revenue.

Mayor Hales said the new business fee is “An elegant solution that’s easier to collect,” and one that will, “Spread the base of the tax across more taxpayers,” than the previous proposal. City documents shows that instead of billing 11,000 business accounts to raise $26 million, the new proposal will charge 120,000 accounts to raise $23 million.

As for what the revenue will be spent on, PBOT released an updated project list late last Friday. The Street Fund would allocate 54% of revenue to maintenance and 46% to safety. On the maintenance side, the largest investments will be made in residential and busy street paving with $44.4 million in the first three years — 42% of the total spending.

streets-maintenancespending

Sidewalks are the top priority on the safety side, with $9.6 million in projects slated to be completed in the first three years. 122nd Avenue would be the other big winner with $8 million in crossing, transit, and sidewalk improvement projects that would be split between years 1-3 and 4-6.

streets-safetyspending

When it comes to bicycling-specific projects, the plan would fund a Central City protected bike lane network (east and west of the Willamette) to the tune of $3.2 million in the first three years. Other protected bike lane projects, like a new bridge over I-405 at Flanders, a new lane on NE Broadway from 24th to the bridge, and a host of new bikeways in southwest and east Portland, are slated to be funded in years 4-6.

streets-pbls

The purple-lined section on this map, which was on display at the press conference, shows the “protected bike lane improvement area.”

There would also be $2.7 million invested in seven different neighborhood greenway projects in the first three years. Among the potential investments in the 4-6 year range is a new, $825,000 project that would “upgrade and enhance” some of Portland’s first bicycle boulevards like SE Clinton and NE Tillamook and bring them up to current neighborhood greenway standards.

stterets=greenways

Novick and Hales described their proposal as a balance between the needs of a “progressive coalition” (that included Oregon Walks, Coalition for a Livable Future, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and others), and the Portland Business Alliance. Both of those interests were represented in advisory committees and Hales said the proposal is “A good hybrid of what both work groups wanted.”

Asked why they don’t plan to put this proposal to a public vote, Hales said that “We think this is a difficult decision that we were elected to make. This is the responsibility of government.” The mayor’s message to any would-be opponents is, “We can either do this, do something else, or do nothing.”

Next steps for the Portland Street Fund proposal is a first reading and public hearing on November 20th at 2:00 pm at City council chambers and a second reading and possible vote is scheduled for 10:00 am on December 3rd.

Learn more at OurStreetsPDX.com.

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Michael
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Michael

I read the city is doubling down on the Arts tax method of collecting this from residents, which is absurd.

Allan
Guest
Allan

on the contrary, they would be reusing a (now) existing method of taxation, instead of creating an entirely new system of taxes. that would be absurd

davemess
Guest
davemess
Michael
Guest
Michael

Just because that method exists, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to keep using it. Or are you OK with 30% ignoring this tax as well?

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

Not hugely progressive but a significant improvement over earlier versions of the proposal. I don’t see why they can’t assess the tax on income over 350K on a percentage basis.

I’d also like to know more about the 3.2 million allocated for protected bike lanes and how this will mesh with the 6 million already available.

Chris Anderson
Guest

That was my first thought also — don’t we already have a bunch of money earmarked for protected lanes downtown? If this fund passes does that mean we get to use the money we set aside earlier for corporate welfare instead?

jeff bernards
Guest
jeff bernards

I thought the roads were in desperate need of repair? The tax/fee doesn’t come into play until April 2016. Maybe the extra time is needed to set up the new bureaucracy?

Tyler
Guest

I’m a fan. I’d just like to see the protected Bike Lane Network extend beyond the City Center, and include better and more complete direction signage.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Will the revenue collected be used ONLY for safety and maintenance? A separate kitty, if you may. Mostly because of this: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/08/why_did_portland_city_council.html

If this fee goes into the General Fund, it’ll eventually be misappropriated for unrelated pet projects and vanity spending, much like the commissioners quietly stopped spending utility license fees on transportation.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Just remember that those living outside the city pay nothing even if they commute by auto every day into Portland.

When I worked in downtown Portland only half of my coworkers lived in Portland. Many commuted from long distances including Beaverton, Gresham, Salem and even Rhododendron. The only ones who rode their bikes and walked were Portland residents. Maybe the employer will pay a little bit, but there is no further incentive to live close to work. In fact, this is further encouragement to move out of Portland and have a longer commute.

The cost of collection will be considerable.

Implement a Portland gas tax or raise Multnomah County’s existing gas tax. Cost of collection would be minimal and the commuters and non-residents would at least pay something for using the Portland roads.

Jayson
Guest
Jayson

Given the considerable amount of luxury apartment building in Portland, I’m not worried that more people will be moving out. To the contrary, the evidence suggests that more people are moving closer in and will continue to do so, whether or not they have to pay $100/year for better roads. You couldn’t pay me $1,000/year to move to Tigard or Gresham.

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

Sure. But I don’t pay any local taxes in any of the other jurisdictions that have local transportation fees, like Oregon City, for example. This is our city. We chose to live in a place that’s the center of the region. We’re responsible to preserve our city. Until everyone agrees to implement a regional transportation fee, it’s up to each city to do their own thing.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Yes, but we also have the option to raise a local gas tax, or a parking tax, so that folks who drive here for work end up paying something.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Do you ever buy gas in Eugene, Springfield, Tigard or any of the dozen other cities that have a local option gas tax? If you do, you are paying your share for the streets in those communities.

brian
Guest
brian

In North Portland, the neighborhood greenways are a great place for drivers to speed and blow through stop signs. We need a neighborhood greenway 2.0 that discourages cut through traffic and speeding, otherwise the 2.7 million is a total waste

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Interesting that cyclists often say they blow stop signs to maintain their momentum. For a car, blowing a stop sign does the same thing….and saves fuel. Goose, meet gander.

Jonathan Gordon
Guest
Jonathan Gordon

Suggesting there is symmetry in the safety and physics between a 30 pound bike and 4000 pound car is ludicrous.

9watts
Guest
9watts

except that it the one case it is about the momentum you (your lungs and legs) produce, and in the other the momentum is entirely cultural—of the Bicycle Up Ahead; Must Pass, Must Pass! variety.

see Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs –
http://www.arch.ksu.edu/seamon/Fajans.htm

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Drivers could save even more fuel by not driving in the first place.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Brian,
Which neighborhood greenways? What stop signs? Did you contact PBOT? (823-SAFE)

Will P
Guest
Will P

To my knowledge in the history of Portland there has never been an income tax assessed without voter approval through referral. The mayor and Novick think they can be the first.

There are two votes on the council for the taking if they just refer it. Instead, they are willing to play defense on the referral from PBA and related. Interesting political choices.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

unacceptable… I don’t even see the term “usage” anywhere in there…

the majority of funds go to paving… I don’t degrade the pavement very much when I use it so the majority of my funds shouldn’t be spent on it… why am I paying to repair things that I’m already paying other people to destroy?

Rick
Guest
Rick

ban metal studded tires

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

…and screw everyone in areas of Oregon that have significant winter weather.

MadKnowledge
Guest
MadKnowledge

There are non-studded winter tire options reaily available that priovide better traction than studs and don’t tear up our roads.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

>provide better traction than studs

This is based on the premise that road salt is used and doesn’t take into consideration winding mountain roads. Much of eastern OR is at a high enough altitude where ice and snow on the road doesn’t melt, which means lots of slick, glare ice. I know that we’re supposed to hold our noses to people in rural OR and dictate what’s best for them, but forcing people to drive long distances w/chains at 35mph is not realistic.

Studded tires or road salt….pick one because you cannot ban both.

davemess
Guest
davemess

No, it’s based on real studies on the same road conditions. Here’s one from our neighbors to the North.

“The precise environmental conditions under which studded tires provide a
traction benefit are relatively rare.”
“On bare pavement, studded tires tend to have poorer traction performance than other tire types.”

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/551.1.pdf

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

That WSDOT study is ancient, and was done at a time when studless tires had fairly recently come on the market, but most studded tires were based on VERY old technology in terms of compounds, tread patterns and composition. Studded tires have now caught up, to the point that many of them are pretty good winter tires even without their studs.

I personally haven’t used studded tires in many years, and use studless tires on my own vehicle, but I do recognize that in some conditions studded tires are still significantly better. And those conditions are the very worst ones: bare wet ice. This may not matter much to us Portlanders, but does matter to Eastern Oregonians.

A ban on studded tires just isn’t going to happen, and trying to push it through is only going to widen our urban-rural divide and confirm the view of Portlanders telling rural people how to live.

A steep tax on studded tires, rather than an outright ban, solves all of these problems.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Do you have a newer source backing your claims?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

It’s called familiarity with the market. If you need specifics, please go to tirerack.com or any tire manufacturer’s site for discussions of the technological changes they’ve made on their tires.

rick
Guest
rick

today’s quality winter tires work very well

Jonathan Gordon
Guest
Jonathan Gordon

If they can figure out how to drive without studded tires in Minnesota I think we can, too!

http://portlandtribune.com/sl/112699-studded-tires-bad-for-environment-too

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I learned to drive in Minnesota snow (without studded tires) too.

But I also recognize that Minnesota has far better snow removal, sees lower average temperatures during winter storms (thus offering much better traction than our near-freezing conditions), uses salt on the roads, gets 60″ of snow per year as opposed to 400″ on our mountain passes, and lacks our miles-long 6% grades.

The two states are like apples and giraffes.

jeff
Guest
jeff

and where in the Willamette Valley does that exist precisely?

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i think this proposal is more than equitable. peds and bikes have approximately 12% mode share and are getting far more than ~12% of the new funding.

J_R
Guest
J_R

What’s your source for claiming a 12 percent mode share for pedestrians and bicyclists? Are you referring to the mode of choice for work trips by Portland residents to Portland employment sites? Person trips across the Hawthorne Bridge during the summer is the only place I can think of in the region that hits 12 percent.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

on bike portland and in the usa we typically use ACS census mode share stats. if you can come up with a better number/estimate i’m all ears.

J_R
Guest
J_R

You do realize that the ACS is for the “journey to work,” don’t you? The journey to work accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of travel.

There is little data on non-work trips. In my case and, I suspect for many people, our work trip is the most likely to be made by bike.

The journey to work statistics cannot be used for all trip types, so the 12 percent assumption is bogus. Also, consider again the geographic area to which the data applies. The journey to work by Portland residents to Portland employment will be much higher than the all-metro residents to Portland employment. Many Portland employees live outside Portland and their mode choice is almost all drive alone.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i strongly disagree. imo, many in portland are far more likely to use a bike to ride to a pub, restaurant, or store than to commute to work. moreover, the censes ACS only counts bike commuters who use a bike (and only a bike) for the majority of their commutes. only a fraction of bike commuters fit this criterion.

bike
Guest
bike

But do you ride on the crappy roads we have now? I just don’t get how bike lanes on crappy roads is better than well maintained roads.

F.W. de Klerk
Guest
F.W. de Klerk

Like you are so fond of saying, good thing we’re not in a democracy.

Steve
Guest
Steve

A new tax (or anything else, like fluoride in the water) that will affect all residents should be required to go to a public vote. If it’s a good plan, the people will approve. By not putting things like these to public vote, it makes it appear that they don’t trust the voting public. That’s what it is to have government of the people, by the people, for the people. How can elected officials that don’t trust the people can’t be trusted to represent the people?

Jayson
Guest
Jayson

We elect representatives. They vote for us. If we don’t like the way they vote, we vote them out. Simple as that. If you think this proposal is so egregious, you can sign that recall and/or referral petition – i won’t.

F.W. de Klerk
Guest
F.W. de Klerk

Vote them out? That’s a little hard to do in Portland. All we ever get here is the ability to pick the lesser of two evils.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

I would prefer that they do the right thing, rather than put the wrong thing to a vote…

I’d hate to live in a democracy where the majority got to decide what was right for me…

Steve
Guest
Steve

A new tax (or anything else, like fluoride in the water) that will affect all residents should be required to go to a public vote. If it’s a good plan, the people will approve. By not putting things like these to public vote, it makes it appear that they don’t trust the voting public. That’s what it means to have government of the people, by the people, for the people. How can elected officials that don’t trust the people be trusted to represent the people?

jeff
Guest
jeff

exactly.

sabes
Guest
sabes

We live in a representative democracy. That’s what representative democracies do: they vote people into office to make decisions for them.

davemess
Guest
davemess

So why did we get to vote on the Arts Tax and not this one (which will cost some people a lot more than the Arts Tax)?

Champs
Guest
Champs

Distrusting their numbers, I put the data into a spreadsheet, which is more than I can say for the City. Bad numbers everywhere.

The difference is about a million dollars. The calculated numbers are in italic. Discrepancies are in red. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SJzeeOdIlXK5_jsgf2PQNs3Z3EeNq0mDh8vztbEkluc/edit#gid=103655181

Ryan Aslett
Guest
Ryan Aslett

So they took the normal PBOT budget, spent it on other initiatives that didn’t involve maintenance, and now are asking to have another budget funded by the taxpayers. PBOT doesn’t have a clear, articulated strategic plan as to what they are even trying to accomplish, let alone an accounting system that will allow us to see if the money we give them is worth what we’re paying them for.

Almost two years ago the City Auditor audited PBOT, and found that PBOT lacks a strategic plan: http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=60923&a=431819

“Our audit also found that the City has no long-term plan to reconcile competing transportation priorities. As a result, new transportation projects have displaced core services such as maintaining streets. We recommend that the City Council adopt an overall transportation strategy to identify how it plans to balance preservation of existing infrastructure against new transportation development. ”

Where’s the strategic plan? One of those competing projects happened to be streetcar funds. Guess what happened when the Auditor looked at the Streetcar this year? (http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=64479&a=487580) Again – no strategic plan.

“PBOT has no strategic plan, but has developed a one-year business plan”

In the first audit, the auditors couldn’t even tell where PBOT was spending its money.

“Staff are not currently able to link budgeted
activities to specific revenues, or easily allocate project costs by fund.
Financial information was not readily available to respond to audit
questions. PBOT staff told us they are now working with the Office
of Management and Finance to tailor the financial accounting system
to PBOT needs. Because PBOT staff is actively working with Office
of Financial Management to resolve these issues, we did not extend
the audit scope to address these issues at this time. However, the
control, tracking, and reporting of PBOT revenues and expenditures
could be the topic of a future audit. ”

How do we know if we give them more money they aren’t just blowing it all on hats?

I would love to have a world class transportation infrastructure, and Im even willing to pay extra taxes to have it. I just want to have the confidence that our leadership is going to do something worthwhile with it. That is currently not even remotely the case.

Will P
Guest
Will P

The city states that income will be measured by federal AGI. Federal AGI contains taxable SS and PERS benefits. I wonder if they are just leaving those exemptions off the one-pager or if they are really going to try and tax them.

The cities one-pager here: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/508984

bikey
Guest
bikey

A gas tax would be better. Will vote for anyone who endorses increasing the gas tax.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

with a gas tax i would pay next to nothing while a lower income family living in outer se would pay quite a bit. i think wealthier low-car, car-light, car-free people should pay their fair share — especially since 46% is being allocated to safety/active transport and another 7% to signaling improvements (which will likely include many new bike/ped traffic signals).

jeff bernards
Guest
jeff bernards

The hazardous walking and driving situations are created from car use and should hence be paid for by car users. A Gas Tax.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

one could easily argue minimizing the number of pedestrians would also reduce those hazards.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Not analogous, MORG. Maybe women should stay home to reduce the dangers of being out in society too?

Also, reducing the number of pedestrians would reduce the aggregate danger to pedestrians, but actually increases the danger to individual pedestrians as drivers get less used to interacting with them.

Finally, walking is a right. Driving is not a right. That alone is justification for working harder to reduce the dangers that drivers create for pedestrians.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

MORG,
pedestrians (non-auto traffic) was here first. Which do you prefer, first come, first served rules, or, might makes right?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Finally, walking is a right. Driving is not a right. That alone is justification for working harder to reduce the dangers that drivers create for pedestrians.”

Exactly. To what extent are we willing to infringe on the rights of pedestrians to make the privilege of driving more convenient? Heh—I guess more and more, since we’re all too willing to give up freedoms by the fistfull for the promise of greater “security” (or in this case, “safety”).

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

lack of mass transit options and barriers to density are facilitated by “i got mine” types who looked the other way while the undesirables were and are continuing to be cleansed from close-in neighborhoods.

moreover, i see no reason why well-off prius and leaf owners living in twee central portland tax havens can’t *BEGIN* to pay their fair share.

J_R
Guest
J_R

If you own a car and have a driver’s license, you are already contributing to the ODOT budget, which also passes funds through to cities and counties.

Your two-year license fee is $86 plus another $38 for the Sellwood Bridge if you live in Multnomah County. The cost of your driver’s license works out to a bit more than $6 per year. If you think fees are inconsequential, check the ODOT budget. For the most recent biennium, gas taxes account for $1.1 billion; licenses and fees account for $0.67 billion; and truck weight mile taxes are $0.61 billion. Yes, that’s right, vehicle license and vehicle fees are more than paid by trucks.

Check your property tax bill and see how much goes to police and fire pensions. Check the Portland budget for police and fire costs and allocate a portion of those to transportation system enforcement and emergency response.

The point is, you are already paying a pretty fair amount of money to support the local transportation system even if you don’t buy any gas.

hat
Guest
hat

I am worried about the involvement of PBA in this. If you think 54% is bad, as of October they want 75% used for paving.

“We strongly support a preponderance of the revenues, up to 75%, collected through a transportation user fee to be focused on the identified need to maintain and repair city streets.”

http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2014/11/10/what-the-portland-business-alliance-wants-from-the-citys-street-tax-fee-fund

How can typical citizens object to the PBAs opinions aside from becoming members?

dan
Guest
dan

The city says this fee will create 22 positions in the Revenue Bureau. Let’s see their proposal for a new funding mechanism that doesn’t require 22 additional people to count the money. Along with, of course, their business plan for the next 10 years.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

As I recall from my long-ish City career, $100K per FTE (1 full time employee equivalent) is a rough rule of thumb for budget estimating purposes. So there’s $2.2 million in staff costs right off the top, and that’s not counting whatever crazed software solution they will almost certainly elect to deploy for collection. That solution will be incompatible with the City’s persnickety implementation of its financial software (SAP), requiring an expensive interface development contract.

I speak from experience. I worked on interfaces between SAP and the Revenue Bureau’s business license software for years. It’s why I retired.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

(And yes, I’ll admit to the faint whiff of hypocrisy on my part here: I got mine and retired, and now I begrudge good, fulltime, living-wage white collar jobs for others. I don’t begrudge them. Really. I just know from experience how admin-heavy the City tends to be.)

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“I got mine and retired”

and i’m a huge fan of wealth redistribution. the more taxes the better!

9watts
Guest
9watts

Anne,
having not clicked on the link dan provided above until today, I’m curious if you’d care to comment on the full sentence from which dan quoted earlier:

It is anticipated that as many as 143 private contractor positions will be created, and an additional 59 positions will be created for PBOT and 22 in the Revenue Bureau will be added.
If my math is correct, that comes to 224 new positions in both the private and public sector!

I discovered this in conversation with Michael about Vision Zero over here:
http://bikeportland.org/2014/11/24/oregon-walks-celebrates-vision-zero-plan-honors-livable-streets-visionaries-113913#comments

9watts
Guest
9watts

dan “The city says this fee will create 22 positions in the Revenue Bureau.”

Anne Hawley</b" So there’s $2.2 million in staff costs right off the top, and that’s not counting whatever crazed software solution they will almost certainly elect to deploy for collection."

My math from back in April is starting to look like it wasn't all that far off, though not having the insights or research skills of dan and Anne I missed the fact that the *annual* administrative tab for this monster could run into the millions. I naively assumed those costs were all or mostly upfront. Ha.

9watts
Here’s a little thought experiment:
Let us assume (in the absence of better numbers) that
-> planning, testing, revising (over the course of seven years), and implementing & administering this street fee cost tax payers $4M
-> by the time it is finalized, the adjustments and exceptions have reduced the estimated annual take to $24M
-> compliance is slightly better than the arts tax at 75%
-> first year net yield for eight years of work: $14M
How does this hard fought chunk of change compare to what our transport infrastructure is estimated to require each year just to keep up with deterioration? Dylan Rivera estimated to bikeportland on 12/11/13 that $153M/yr was needed for each of the next ten years to “bring our transportation infrastructure into fair or better condition.”
14M/153M = just over 9%.
And we still have free use of studded tires….
And this fee has accomplished exactly nothing to discourage driving. Actually I take that back. It has *encouraged* driving by getting those who do not drive to subsidize the infrastructure which is built overwhelmingly for and worn down by the use of cars and trucks….
And the city’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 “Most people rely on walking, bicycling and transit rather than driving. “ just got (another) middle finger from across town.
http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/268612
Recommended 7

http://bikeportland.org/2014/04/18/businesses-and-bikeways-city-reveals-more-details-on-street-fee-104800#comment-4735979

9watts
Guest
9watts

sorry about the boldface html screwup!

S. Brian Willson
Guest

How does the Street fee/tax contribute to Portland’s transportation goals in the Climate Action Plan? And it admittedly is not nearly sufficient to the estimated needs.

An inflation indexed fuel tax is much more honest as a direct, efficient method for raising funds for transportation infrastructure without any complicated collection process. A street fee provides no incentive whatsoever to reduce burdens on the transportation infrastructure, whereas a fuel tax or carbon tax itself, would be an incentive to reduce energy consumption and wear and tear on roads.

Many Oregon cities have imposed a gas tax. An alternative mileage-based road user fee as calculated by an installed device is an alternative mechanism now being tested. As Mary Olson, former member of the Oregon Transportation Commission, has stated, “The gas tax is a perfect tax. It’s not invasive on the person using it and it requires very little effort on the agency that depends on that money for providing services…Trying to replace that is really difficult, because anything you try to do is so much more complicated than just pulling up to the pump and paying for gas.”

An income tax, on the contrary, should be submitted to the people as a ballot measure, not imposed by 3 or more of a mere 5 city commissioners.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Hey, I can get behind any taxation plan that only applies to couples.

[That was sarcasm aimed at the selective representation of rates.]

J_R
Guest
J_R

How will the contribution of national or multi-national businesses be calculated? Will Nike pay on just their sales at their retail outlets in Portland? I remember hearing a claim that that PGE pays nothing in Oregon income tax. What will they pay?

Maybe it’s immaterial if the business fee is capped at $144 per month.

Then there’s the 50 percent discount for non-profits and exemption for government agencies. Does that mean OHSU, for example, pays nothing? PSU nothing? Convention Center?

It’s looking to me like the small businesses located in Portland will be only businesses that pay much from the business side of the program.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

I wonder how much this income tax will be in 10 years. Is there any language about limiting increases? I live downtown and will certainly benefit from the tax so I don’t really mind paying, but I’m concerned that this thing will get out of hand.

davemess
Guest
davemess

They were pushing strongly for a sunset clause over the summer, I don’t see anything about that here though.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Actually, I’m concerned with the opposite. The gas tax is a good example of taxation failing to keep up with inflation. And really that’s why we are even having this conversation.

davemess
Guest
davemess

If this was the only (or even main) source of road funding I might agree with you. But this is a completely new source, that we kind of managed to survive without for decades (you could argue we would have survived well without if PBOT had been managed better, or we hadn’t spent maintenance money on other things).

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Luckily I will be living outside of Portland before this kicks in. Sorry Hales!

Anne Hawley
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Anne Hawley

Does anyone have any sense of the priority placed on paving the city’s many, many COMPLETELY UNPAVED roads?

J_R
Guest
J_R

When I attended one of the public meetings last year in SE Portland, one resident asked about paving unpaved streets. If I understood him correctly, Novick basically said that wasn’t part of the program. I think he suggested it would take $7 billion, but I took that as hyperbole not an actual figure. Some of the residents in attendance claimed they were promised paving when they agreed to annexation several decades ago.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Is there any evidence of this promise?

Anne Hawley
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Anne Hawley

Thanks!

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i have absolutely no problem negotiating unpaved roads by bike or foot. moreover, unpaved roads encourage safer driving. i live right next to an unpaved road and want to see more of them in this city.

davemess
Guest
davemess

What about garbage trucks, ambulances, or fire trucks? Currently trucks are busting water and sewer lines buried under poorly maintained, “unimproved” roads, and homeowners are getting stuck with the repair expenses.
It’s 2014: forcing Portland’s (mostly) lower income resides to walk/bike/drive around mini lakes and through mud is not an honest solution.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“Currently trucks are busting water and sewer lines buried under poorly maintained”

I’ve never heard of this happening. Do you have a link or article?

davemess
Guest
davemess

It happened to my friend. Without including his name, here is an excerpt from an email he sent to the city:

“I am writing because our “street” is a disaster. We live on one of the unpaved streets that I’m sure you all are tired of hearing about! However, recently, the state of the street has deteriorated to where it is nearly impassable. The potholes are mini lakes and the mud bogs are ridiculous. Frankly, it is so muddy, that the garbage truck, while driving over our on-street water shut-off plate actually smashed it down and destroyed the joint to our water pipes. Because it was on our side of the property, we were required to pay out of pocket for this expense. This is fine one time, but I am unwilling to accept this expense again.”

Just because you haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean this kind of thing isn’t happening.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Still hearsay. Any documented city council settlement? Pipes fail due to old age all the time. coincidence of a truck driving by is not causation.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Would that pipe be covered under a paved road though?

Anne Hawley
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Anne Hawley

The people who own houses on unpaved streets and have to clean the constant dust in the summer and mud in the winter beg to differ.

Chris Anderson
Guest

For those of you like Anne who would like to see something done about unpaved streets in your neighborhood, this program from the city might be of interest. In short: the old requirement was you had to bring the street up to standard Portland street standards, and then the city would take over maintenance. This document has a handful of new less-expensive standards that you might be able to get excited about. My favorite (listed in the fine print but not in any of the illustrations) is walkway-only, which means you can put in just a sidewalk. There are also shared street and other low-car options: (PDF) https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/422120

I don’t think this funding package addresses these, so I’m mostly leaving the link b/c I think this post may draw readers interested in unpaved roads, and I want to spread the word that you don’t have to convert them to “normal” streets. I think a lot of people share spare_wheel’s view of the unpaved roads as a blessing b/c they cut down on traffic volumes. These options may be able to solve Anne’s dust and mud problem, without inviting more car traffic into a neighborhood.

jeff
Guest
jeff

not even on Novick’s radar…he’s essentially ignoring many of the roads with the lowest score and focused on repaving many high traffic corridors which don’t even need it yet. the logic is amazing in its suspension. PDX is about to be conned again out of money for projects it does not need.

davemess
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davemess

That’s what it has seemed like with the some of the roads they chose to pave this summer (looking at you E. Burnside and SE 52nd).

paikiala
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paikiala

The citizens of portland (big group) have never paid to construct local roads unless part of a specific program (segment of 86th south of Clinton as part of the greenway, or going east of 33rd, for example). Local residents, via the original contractor/land development company, or now via LID, are respsonsible for the first build of local streets. Once constructed to city standards, the citizens of portland agree to assume all future maintenance costs.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I’m assuming this was misplaced, but since you posted:
http://wweek.com/portland/article-17460-dirt_roads_dead_ends.html

“In a 2000 report to City Council about funding for street improvements, an expert panel delved into the history of Portland infrastructure. They called the notion that property owners have always borne the cost of paving streets a “long-standing myth.”

As recently as 2000, the study found, the city was paying most or all of the costs to pave many streets, especially in poorer neighborhoods.

“The implication of this myth was that property owners paid almost entirely for their street, a proposition that is nowhere near the truth,” the report says. “It is much more accurate, and also much more relevant to the problems we face today, to state that property owners have almost always helped pay for at least a portion of the costs for improving their streets.””

But I know PBOT has its part line.

davemess
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davemess

*party line.

Trek 3900
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Trek 3900

just what we need – more fees and taxes. guess the city never thought about cutting some waste to come up with the money. nope – just tax and spend is all they know how to do. BUT you folks voted ’em in so you deserve what you get!

paikiala
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paikiala

So, you’ve found some waste, but haven’t taken Hales up on his bet? Or, maybe, it’s just all governments are wasteful (unlike regular people)?

Trek 3900
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Trek 3900

Quote: “How does the Street fee/tax contribute to Portland’s transportation goals in the Climate Action Plan? And it admittedly is not nearly sufficient to the estimated needs.”

A little reality check for ya: If Portland outlawed all fossil fuels for cars, heating, law mowing, etc it would not make a hill of beans of difference to the climate. Sorry!

Trek 3900
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Trek 3900

Quote: “An alternative mileage-based road user fee as calculated by an installed device is an alternative mechanism now being tested.”

Why do you think this is being proposed? I can tell you: those who proposed it drive gas hogs that are big, heavy, and do more damage to roads/bridges/etc. They don’t like the gas tax because it makes them pay their fair share. They want gas-sipping cars to subsidize their bad behavior.

The mileage-based fee will encourage more people to drive gas hogs resulting in more CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere.

Fred
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Fred

I’d rather spend my $120 on new bike tires and just bunny hop pot holes.

F.W. de Klerk
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F.W. de Klerk

Same here. And if this is collected like the pathetic Arts Tax, I’ll dodge this too and just buy bike parts.

Terry D-M
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Terry D-M

This is absolutely needed and there is no reason to refer it to voters. Rarely I agree with Hales, but in this case it IS his job to make the tough decisions, and we desperately NEED more funding at PBOT locally.

The GAS TAX (hopefully) will be increased at the Statewide level and they are even talking about indexing it to fuel efficiency so it increases automatically. These two sources combined will help out a lot. If we were to ban/heavily tax studded tires, and begin congestion pricing of parking and…gasp….toll the freeways (federal law change needed), then we would have funding enough to actually make some headway.

3% (last time i checked) was going to the “Alternative uses of public ROW” program. This would allow for short built path connections through CRITICAL dirt and gravel roadways for active transportation conductivity. This could be really helpful in South, SW and EAST Portland but do not expect long stretches of residential roadways getting paved….that is not in the cards.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Indexing to the fuel economy of the vehicle fleet is better than nothing, but not by much. Since 1993, the last year that the federal gas tax was increased, the fuel economy of the light vehicle fleet (cars and light trucks) has gone from 20.8 to 23.3 in 2012. That’s an increase of only 12 percent in 21 years.

Failure to Index to the construction cost index is the disaster that leaves us with a broken transportation system. Since 1993, the Corps of Engineers construction cost index for highways, roads and bridges has risen by 70 percent.

hat
Guest
hat

Very interesting. Can you cite your references?

jeff
Guest
jeff

why precisely do we “need” more PBOT funding locally?
how about PBOT prioritize roads according to their condition and work on those in the worst shape first? something they’re not doing now.

Joseph E
Guest

Portland has about 4000 lane-miles of paved streets and roads. It costs $1 million dollars per lane-mile to totally resurface a road, and this has to be done at least every 40 years. That means we need to be spending about $100 million a year just to keep the roads paved, let alone adding bike paths and lanes, new sidewalks, paving unpaved roads, etc.

PBOT could not keep the streets paved for the next generation based on the current budget alone, even if they had no other goals other than repaving.

9watts
Guest
9watts

And lets not forget that well before those next forty years are up we won’t be able to afford *any* asphalt or have trucks to move it around. Not that the clowns at PBOT seems to be taking this into consideration.

spare_wheel
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spare_wheel

our current LOV-centric infrastructure is unsustainable economically and environmentally.

the time to start pushing for less costly options is now!

paikiala
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paikiala

Jeff,
From where do you get your information regarding street maintenance priority? Also, what’s your expertise in such things?

Trek 3900
Guest
Trek 3900

Reality check: No matter how much they increase taxes, they will not have enough money – that is the nature of all government programs. The more they get the more they waste – and if it’s the federal government they will even spend money they do not have until you have many trillions in debt and the whole system is in danger of collapse. Sound familiar?

9watts
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9watts

I’m curious, Trek 3900, why you think this is? In other countries taxes are used for useful things. And people don’t mind paying them. Why are we different?

TOM
Guest
TOM

jeff
not even on Novick’s radar…he’s essentially ignoring many of the roads with the lowest score and focused on repaving many high traffic corridors which don’t even need it yet. the logic is amazing in its suspension. PDX is about to be conned again out of money for projects it does not need.
Recommended 3

I mostly only know about areas where I ride, but I concur about ” PDX is about to be conned again out of money for projects it does not need”

This last summer I watched them repave SE130th , a very low traffic neighborhood street, and SE122nd … I rode that one many times and from my view on a bike, it really didn’t need it.

Also a new strobed crossing at SE 141 & Powell, don’t think it’s very highly used either …oh and one at about SE128 & Stark …the lights are blinking often with nobody there.

AND THEN there is NO lighted crossing anywhere on Powell between 122 and 136th ???? Need to get their heads out of their as$’s .

Trek 3900
Guest
Trek 3900

Quote: “I’m curious, Trek 3900, why you think this is? In other countries taxes are used for useful things. And people don’t mind paying them. Why are we different?”

We are not different – most people will willingly pay taxes for useful things. But we do not want to pay taxes for things that are not useful and our government spending is AT LEAST 33% waste. Not only are a lot of the taxes spent on things that are not useful, but many of the things are harmful to Americans!

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Not only are a lot of the taxes spent on things that are not useful, but many of the things are harmful to Americans!”

Yes. We agree. But since that is not how it is done in other countries to which we tend to compare ourselves, my question stands: Why do you think that is?

Trek 3900
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Trek 3900

Which country are you thinking of and how do they do things differently?
I suspect people complain of high taxes wherever they exist – the French just voted in conservatives who promised lower taxes.

robt
Guest
robt

I would prefer that the state increase vehicle licensing fees to raise funds. Otherwise, Portland may simply lose state funding to other cities that don’t have a street fee. (This is what happens when school bond measures pass-the state steps in for districts without a levy.)

If the street fund goes forward I think it’s more rational to base deductions on the number of cars people own, not the children they have. (no car=15k deduction, 1 car= 10k deduction, etc) Families already get child tax credits. Fewer cars are a positive for so many reasons, including road maintenance- That’s what should be rewarded through public policy, not larger families.

Also, they should eliminate the leaf tax which has caused so much ire and discouraged some people from planting street trees. It may also reduce overall administrative costs by rolling the leaf fee administration into the street fee administration.

fred
Guest
fred

Making people pay more because they have more income is senseless. The tax should be based on use. The more you use the more you pay! Crazy! It’s called a gas tax.