Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Our opinion: Vote ‘yes’ on the gas tax

Posted by on April 27th, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Sidewalk to nowhere-2

(Photos by Jonathan Maus and Michael Andersen for BikePortland)

Three years ago, before launching his long, awkward crusade to raise money for Portland streets, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick made a really good point.

According to the city’s business tax records, he said, Portland residents, businesses and governments spend $844 million every year on auto maintenance and gasoline at local shops.

That’s not even close to the full cost of local auto use, which also includes buying cars, financing them, insuring them, parking them and so forth. Even without all that, it comes out to $3,270 per year per Portland household.

Almost everyone who bikes also drives, so almost everyone who bikes would pay. We should jump at the chance.

The 10-cent gas tax on the ballots that arrive this week in Portland mailboxes would very slightly increase that cost. Like the other costs of car use, this gas tax would be paid by rich Portlanders and by poor Portlanders. It would be paid — lest anyone forget — by Portlanders who bike, because the vast majority of Portlanders who use bikes also use cars.

It’d bring in $62 per Portland household per year, $5.18 per month. Per resident, the figure is $25, or $2.08 per month.

With that $62 per household, Portland would raise $16 million a year, or about one-fiftieth of the amount of money that Portlanders are already spending to fuel and repair their motor vehicles. Of that, $9 million go toward Portland’s budget for keeping its major streets from crumbling, increasing the paving budget by 64 percent. This would save taxpayers $90 million over the next 10 years because road maintenance now is far cheaper than repairs later. That’s a 1,000 percent return on investment — a $90 million payoff that Portland will be able to reinvest in making its streets better because it won’t have to throw every available penny into keeping them functional.

But that’s not all your $62 would do. It would also triple the city’s standing budget for new biking and walking infrastructure.

It would fill out a downtown protected bike lane network, finally delivering on the promise of our downtown bridge bikeways, all of which end before reaching the places people actually need to go.

sw broadway right turns

(For beginning riders, Southwest Broadway’s door-zone bike lane may as well be a wall — and right now it’s one of the best bike routes in downtown Portland.)

It would devote a similar amount of money to 122nd Avenue, the most important street in east Portland and the key to making low-car life in the area not just possible but pleasant.

(122nd Avenue is often the best way because on a fractured street grid, it’s often the only way.)

It would build the Mill-Millmain-Main-Market and Holladay-Oregon-Pacific neighborhood greenways through east Portland, connecting David Douglas High School and thousands of new Portlanders to the I-205 path, Gateway Transit Center and the citywide bike network.

east portland neighborhood greenways

(Planned greenways for east Portland, marked in green.)

It would fund a 7th/9th neighborhood greenway, the crucial north-south connection to the Lloyd District, a first step in turning the Lloyd into the bike-friendliest dense neighborhood in the United States and an anchor for thousands of tomorrow’s pro-bike, pro-transit voters.

tough crossing weidler 9th gal

(A neighborhood greenway on 7th or 9th might improve the crossing of Weidler.)

It would put a new neighborhood greenway on NW/SW 20th Avenue from Raleigh to Jefferson, connecting the fast-growing neighborhoods of the Northwest District with Goose Hollow, Portland State University and the employers in downtown and (via MAX) Washington County.

NW Portland Week - Day 5-18.jpg

(Northwest Portland is the only quadrant with no modern neighborhood greenways.)

It would finally build the sidewalk on Southwest Capitol Highway from Multnomah Village to West Portland Town Center, a walking route to transit and shopping that has to be upgraded for southwest Portland to graduate from countryside to city.

SW Capitol Hwy-44

(Southwest Capitol Highway has been the quadrant’s top-priority project for many years.)

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Almost every day on BikePortland, we write about something the city could spend money on. This ballot issue is the best chance we’ve seen in 10 years to substantially increase the amount of money that goes toward making Portland a better place to ride a bicycle.

If a $5-per-month gas tax sounds expensive, an auto-dependent city is costing us much, much more.

The best argument against the gas tax — against spending $62 for each of the next four years to get everything above and more — is that it is regressive. Rich people drive much more than poor people, especially in cities like Portland, so they will pay more. But poor people who drive will still have to pay a disproportionate percentage of their income, just as they do with all gas taxes.

That’s why it is so essential that a gas tax also deliver disproportionate benefits to low-income Portlanders. The initiative on Portland ballots (unlike any conceivable statewide gas tax) does this. If it passes and if these projects are built, they will make driving significantly less necessary for Portlanders.

Yes, most Portlanders will still basically need to own a car. It’ll take many more years to change that, though the change is already underway. But these projects and the others funded by this tax will help many more Portlanders drive less. And less driving means fewer miles on car engines, fewer timing belt replacements, fewer fender-benders, fewer trips to the gas station.

Yes, $62 per year for the average household is regressive. But $3,270 per year for the average household is far, far more regressive. There is only one path to escaping it, and that is to make Portland a better place to get around without a car.

A “yes” vote wouldn’t be a gift from Portlanders to their city government, which regularly makes mistakes and will continue to. If it passes, it will be up to Portlanders (all of us on BikePortland included) to collect on the promise of this vote by making all these projects as good and smart as they can possibly be.

But without a “yes” vote on this ballot, most of these projects and the others that would follow them simply will not happen for many years to come.

A “yes” vote would be a gift from Portlanders to themselves. Let’s do this.

Ballots are due May 17 at 8 p.m.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Correction 2:30 pm: A previous version of this post gave the wrong annual spending figure for pavement maintenance.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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mh
Subscriber

Thank you.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I will absolutely vote for it, but I suspect it will fail by a margin of 4-to-1.

I buy fewer than 300 gallons of gas per year and a substantial portion of that is on out-of-town trips, so it will cost me a pittance – less than I spend on bike tires per year.

I would be better as a state gas tax increase, but it’s worth a try.

JG
Guest
JG

Jonathan,

Is there anything else this money is going to be spent on? Is 100% of it going to road repair and maintenance, bike/pedestrian infrastructure improvements and additions, etc.?

dwk
Guest
dwk

It is totally regressive and collects nothing from Washington drivers that are clogging the roads and buying their gas in Vancouver.
With all the massive development in Portland, development fees should have paid for the roads. Collect the money form those who have it and not from a bunch of minimum wage workers…..

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

Should, should have, fails to do this or that thing, isn’t perfect.

It is undeniably regressive, but Michael makes the important point that those least able to pay will at least get the greatest benefit from it. In a state without a sales tax, Oregon’s poor at least escape a regressive tax that afflicts the poor in almost all the rest of the country.

dwk
Guest
dwk

I Rode the 51 miles of DE Ronde this weekend. 51 miles of very expensive homes in the west hills on very crappy roads.
You want the people who do the yard work at these homes to pay the gas taxes….

Spiffy
Subscriber

that just means they’ll start charging those rich people more for their services…

Pete
Guest
Pete

About developer fees – Santa Clara, CA, for all of its years of silicon valley development, only enacted them two years ago, and the massive stadium development even got out of it. Money talks… well, you know the rest.

At the same time, a year later, articles came out about the high cost of housing and the crisis being due to the additional development costs imposed by the fees. Seems you can’t win.

I disagree with the “regressive” label being thrown around. If minimum wage workers have already bought into car ownership, the article does a good job of showing the costs are incremental – just as any sudden gas cost increases are due to oil market price manipulation anyway. Further, this is a city tax, and I’m willing to bet that people’s behavior – especially when gas is as cheap as it is now – is driven primarily by convenience and secondarily by cost. For example, I doubt people will drive out of their way to pay a few cents less for gas – from my observation they are more likely to choose the lowest grade and quality of gas, even if the long-term impact to their engines will cost them significantly more. People have pretty much decided which stations they will frequent, and if it was even worth collecting the data I’d doubt you’d see much change in that. If you don’t believe me, just watch how many people drive into Arco and fill their newer cars (with high-compression engines) with 86 octane fuel.

People barely even notice price variations on a weekly basis – until they hear about it on the TV news and then get their panties in a bunch.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I don’t know, I certainly see a lot of Washington plates at the Costco gas in NE Portland. With Oregon’s lower state tax, I believe the overall price of gas will still be lower down here.

meh
Guest
meh

Let’s forget that those Washington drivers leave 9% of their income in Oregon and don’t get the benefits of doing so. Oregon is the winner.

But let’s not forget that those who leave Portland to work will most likely fill up outside the city. Those who live on the periphery will make that short drive and save $0.10 a gallon.

I’ve yet to see an estimated tax income in the voter’s pamphlet that has come to fruition. Their estimates will not be met.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

I’m confused why you think that its the Washington (and other) commuters that are overloading roads, but you think SDCs on Portland development are the solution. We can’t levy SDCs on the suburbs–at least a local gas tax has a *chance* (however small) of collecting some money from the commuters.

A regional gas tax properly allocated, or even better tolling and demand charges, would undoubtedly be preferred, but this is the hand we have to work with.

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

Well written and well reasoned. This article deserves wide circulation beyond the BikePortland community.

The gas tax has my vote.

soren
Guest

I’m voting yes because the benefits of the projects this tax will fund outweigh the harm of its regressive mechanism.

I would still like to see more funding dedicated to projects that benefit low-income people (e.g. pedestrian and transit infrastructure) and less spent on road maintenance.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

I wish I could vote for it, but I’m no longer an Oregon voter. I live in a state that has a 2 cent sales tax on everything, staple foods included, to pay for more freeways – talk about regressive – on top of the usual 6.75% general sales tax. (Income taxes here are much lower than in Oregon.)

The nice thing about a state gas tax, specific to Oregon (but nowhere else in the USA), is that the funds collected MUST go to transportation infrastructure – it can’t be siphoned (no pun intended) to non-transportation pet projects, let alone housing, police, etc.

Allan
Guest
Allan
Guest
Allan

Will we need to buy gas in Portland to pay this?

Craig Gifen
Guest
Craig Gifen

If they would just permanently park seven days a week a few traffic officers on Powell and Foster handing out tickets to all those people driving 50mph, they could fund a lot of safety projects.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Speed cameras and red-light cameras are much more efficient at this, freeing up traffic safety officers to go after distracted/intoxicated drivers

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Craig,
how do you figure? Any citations we can look at in ORS?
I’m not aware of any law that requires citation revenue, the small portion the City receives from the final adjudication, has to be spent on infrastructure improvements.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I’m totally in favor of most consumption taxes, and would double this one if I could.

soren
Guest

my support for regressive gas taxes increases when they become large enough to affect transportation choices. a $4 per gallon gas tax would *force* our society to build efficient and affordable transportation options.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

Or it might encourage car companies to develop cars with fewer cylinders, that burn less gasoline or diesel to go further, but with much higher air pollution. To get around the emission requirements, the car companies could then lie about their emissions to regulators. But this would never happen, of course.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Or it might encourage fuel companies to water down their gas with corn.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Ethanol is a pretty bad choice both environmentally and from a food availability standpoint.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

That’s kinda the point here. As you artificially raise the price of gas through taxes to support progressive purposes, the market tends to promote ways to evade those purposes by raising pollution levels or by lying to regulators, which has happened repeatedly in Europe, a region with already very high gas taxes.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Or just sucking it up… Europeans drive a lot more than we think they do.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

How about from a profit standpoint; that’s what really counts…

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The reason we use ethanol in gasoline is not profit — it is government rules that require it for environmental benefits that seemed more compelling when the laws were passed than they do now, in hindsight.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

IMO, regressive taxes are okay when they are a “sin tax”. Do we tax cigarettes and alcohol on a graduated scale? No. We want to discourage use, so they get taxed evenly at the point of sale. Gas should be treated the same way.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

But at the moment, there is no “need” to smoke or drink, except for personal enjoyment (or addiction). But our design of cities and suburbs, and the roads that connect them, nearly forces some people to drive if they are going to meet the expectations (based on assumptions that “everyone” drives) of employers. Fundamental structural and attitude changes have to happen within society at large in order to be able to stop foisting our collective addiction to driving on those who can least afford it.

lop
Guest
lop

Kind of like the way cigarette taxes fall disproportionately on the addicted poor?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I would vote Yes if I still lived in Oregon. This is important.

And the cost doesn’t entirely hit taxpayers. The vast majority of people don’t seem to get this, but any economist can tell you that added taxes (or any added cost) are shared among the producer and the consumer, based on the relative elasticities of supply and demand.

When a price goes up, people consume less. Price is a function of demand vs. supply, and demand goes down faster than producers can cut supply. It’s only a small incremental drop, but it is real. So even though the tax is 10 cents, ultimately the price is only likely to end up 3-4 cents higher than it otherwise would have been without the tax. Initially gas stations will jack prices 10 cents or even more to “send a message”, but they won’t be able to sustain it. One by one they will cave and prices will return to equilibrium based on the new supply curve.

So if consumers are only paying 3-4 cents out of the 10 cent tax, where did the other 6-7 cents come from? The producers’ profit margin, that’s where. And THAT is why oil companies freak out about gas taxes. They know the taxes cost them more than they cost us.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

What does it cost to build a neighborhood greenway? Doesn’t seem like much, not sure “build” is the correct term. Most of the ones I ride on are “built” with a few sharrows, a few turned stop signs, perhaps a few feet of curbing here and there, a few signs, some green paint. What’s the big expense? Let’s just do this.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

B,
retrofits could be quite low, while a new greenway that needs a signal might be quite high. A rough average is about $200,000 per mile.

rh
Guest
rh

Meh, 10 cents is OK to me. I’m sure if I just kept my car tires at the proper pressure, it would even it all out with better mpg. Then again, I heard hypermiling is pretty effective too.
http://www.wikihow.com/Hypermile

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Improved my fuel economy by 30%. Back when I drove enough for it to matter very much, and at that time it amounted to saving a tank a month.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

The biggest change you can make to your car for better fuel economy is to “adjust the nut behind the steering wheel”.

Pete
Guest
Pete

When my wife and I swap driving on long trips, she absolutely hates it when I reset the second trip meter so we get to compare average MPH on a per driver basis… I should probably stop doing that. 🙂

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Ha! I do that too, with the same kind of response from the wife.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

I’m on the fence, mostly because the current PBOT commissioner has done a incredibly poor job as an elected official, which is in turn reflected in the Bureau’s poor performance. If Wheeler didn’t backpedal on his commitment to taking control of PBOT, I’d think differently. More money won’t fix poor leadership.

pdxtex
Guest
pdxtex

they should start with banning studded tires in urban areas. that would be free and save tons of wear and tear on the roads. who uses those anyway? your subie driver, skiing neighbor. get some normal snow tires. they work just fine.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

I have been passed by small SUV taxis with studded tires!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Come on, they totally need those for the one icy day we get in Portland every 3 years.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

The solution to excessive studded-tire use, as with excessive vehicle/gasoline use, is a tax. $50-100 per tire solves the problem:
– It is enough to cover the damage done by studs.
– It incentivizes the vast majority of most current studded tire users to switch to studless.
– It allows the few who REALLY want/need studs to still have them.
– It avoids ripping Oregon’s already gaping urban-rural divide even further open.

Beth H
Guest

Just want to be clear — would this be applied at the pump, or in a flat tax on everyone the way the arts tax currently is?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

soren
my support for regressive gas taxes increases when they become large enough to affect transportation choices. a $4 per gallon gas tax would *force* our society to build efficient and affordable transportation options.

At the rate we go through oil, it will eventually become scarce and expensive. Given the total cost of owning even an old car, I don’t find arguments that a few cents gas tax imposes a real hardship based more on emotion than fact, especially since gas is at historically low levels.

What I find amazing is how many people are willing to drive in this town. There are so many chokepoints and traffic is so crazy slow cycling is almost always faster.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

I agree Kyle! And I wish his was a 10% tax, not a $0.10

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

By the time oil is scarce, the outdoor winter temps will be hovering around 90. We can’t wait that long.

Byron Palmer
Guest
Byron Palmer

I would highly recommend looking at the City Club report on the financing of roads. A gas tax may not be the best but there are no really good ways to do this. Everyone wants better roads but no one wants to pay for them.

It would be lovely to capture part of this from people from outside Portland but that is difficult and failed with the Sellwood bridge. Toll every exit off I-5 and I-205? Good luck with that one.

And the idea that our commissioners have failed to do the right things to fund the roads; I suggest you look at the report and find that there is little that could be diverted. Maybe cut the police force or have them charge for every service, cut the fire department unless you take out a policy with them, charge for using the parks? Don’t fund the homeless programs? To come up with the money that this would generate would severely impact programs if they had to be cut. Saying that the money is there you have to prove that by taking money from some program currently getting the money. And you can’t touch the utility budgets!

My best idea, which will never see the light of day, is to remove I-405 and sell the land to generate the money. Then move on to 26, I-5, etc.

So unless you can come up with something better, vote for this or don’t use the streets!

soren
Guest

but there are no really good ways to do this

i can think of lots of “good” ways to do this. for example, a progressive income tax where people at 0-80% of median household income would be in the 0% bracket would be an awesome way to do this. (it’s really ridiculous that i will never pay a cent of this tax even though i own and drive a car.)

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

I was on a committee working with Novick on various taxing schemes. Most participants were in favor of a progressive income tax, but Novick and his staff were “poll-driven”, and their polls indicated that voters would most likely approve a gas tax over an income tax increase, to pay for transportation. My guess, which isn’t worth much, is that if the gas tax fails, PBOT will next try a city-wide parking permit program before it considers a progressive income tax again.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Other issues aside, selling assets to pay for operating expenses is not sustainable.

Ann
Guest
Ann

The voters approved money for roads several times in the past decades with promises that the roads would be repaired. They weren’t. What makes it different this time? I’m not voting for it. Let the city show some ccountability first!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Hi Ann,

You might be interested in this “Back to Basics” street maintenance information posted on the City of Portland’s website https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/451483.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Ann,
Which ones did the voters approve?

Jon
Guest
Jon

I drive an electric car and ride my bicycle but I will be voting NO. This will just allow the city council to shift money to their pet projects like they always do. They have had 20 years to fund streets and have not done it. There is no way they deserve to get more money to waste.

Champs
Guest
Champs

My yes vote can only be in good conscience because it’s also the chance to vote no confidence in city leadership and the transportation bureau it runs.

PBOT didn’t understand that Clinton was a priority over Ankeny, so it reallocated—but isn’t it *still* important? An activist meeting is not action.

On the Lovejoy viaduct, PBOT has simply given up.

I get it, bridges are expensive, but a decade later, not a single feasible alternative to completing the NW Flanders greenway has been explored.

BikePortland, 6/22/2007: “City working on fix for Naito Gap”

What’s going on with the 20s Greenway?

Does anyone understand the street design of SE 52nd?

These are not daydreams or moonshots. These are things actually proposed, sometimes even acted upon in recent years. All of them under our “innovative commissioner system” with a raft of leaders that should be pushed off a dock without a paddle. So by all means, vote yes, but be wary of the incumbents.

Emily Guise (Contributor)
Subscriber

Champs, if you’re referring to the Ankeny meeting last Wednesday, that was actually an open house by PBOT. Since BikeLoudPDX has been very involved in advocating for diverters and traffic calming on Ankeny, and has been doing outreach around it, we created that Facebook event so people would know about it. Sheila Parrot is in charge of the Ankeny project, and a new diverter, more speedbumps, an improved diverter at 21st, and ‘Bikes may use full lane’ signs will be installed before school starts in the fall.

The money for Ankeny is coming out of PBOT’s small projects funding. I don’t know where the money for Clinton came from- BikeLoud and others put enough pressure on that the Mayor that he told PBOT to go ahead and put in the diverters. That’s why Clinton’s diverters went in first- more political pressure on that project, whereas the effort around Ankeny has not been as big. This is partially because the Clinton project helped pave the way for adding more trial diverters to other greenways, and also because the Buckman neighborhood is extremely supportive of traffic calming on Ankeny, so there has not been much controversy.

Nishant
Guest
Nishant

The best argument against this is not its regressive nature, but that Novick will waste this money like he has wasted all budget surpluses by hiring unneeded headcount and other indulging in other vanities like those creative sidewalks. It is also offensive that he makes it seem like part of the money would be used pave streets when in fact that 56% paving goal is only a target at best.

This is the same Novick who was unaware of tens of millions in uncollected parking dues that swelled on his watch.

Why should we trust anything in this proposal then?

biker
Guest
biker

Why not tax gas per dollar as opposed to per gallon? With a low percentage tax (2%?), the voter impact would be more agreeable now, but income would inevitably rise with rising gas prices.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Because a tax per dollar would constitute a sales tax, and that is currently unconstitutional in Oregon.

J_R
Guest
J_R

If a percentage tax is unconstitutional, how do you explain the existence of the lodging tax levied in Portland? It is a percentage.

From the City’s website: “Lodging establishments are required by Portland and Multnomah County Transient Lodgings Tax Laws to collect a total of 11.5% occupancy taxes from guests. Lodging establishments send reports with the taxes collected to the Revenue Division.

“Of the 11.5% tax collected, 6% goes to the City of Portland: 5% to the General Fund and 1% to Travel Portland. The remaining 5.5% goes to Multnomah County: 2.5% to the Convention Center Phase II, .275% to hotel/motel operators, and 2.725% to Convention Center Phase I and related operations.”

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I’m not sure of all the nuances. I think sales taxes may be prohibited on goods but allowed on services.

Taxing Lots
Guest
Taxing Lots

Why not a tax on parking spaces? Assume PDX is below the national average and has about 2 parking spaces per capita. That’s about a million spaces. Tax them at $20 each per year and you got $20 million. It’s fair, city’s lose a ton of money by space wasted for parking rather than buildings. Free parking generates traffic that tears up roads. Parking owners (including the city) could easily make up the cost by charging a little per space.

Spiffy
Subscriber

I already planned to vote for it… I’d vote for it even if it was $5 a gallon, because that’s what it really needs to be…

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

I buy about 50 gallons of gas/year, perhaps half in Portland. That tax is a great idea!

Pat Franz
Guest
Pat Franz

I don’t buy gas very often, but I’ll bet I’m not alone in being beyond caring if the price seems $.10 higher than before. Gas prices go up and down all the time by way more than that. If “the market” decides to bump the price of gas $.10, no one would blink. No one. It happens all the time.

And when “the market” bumps the price, none of it comes back to you in any way. All that little extra goes to funding things you probably don’t agree with.

And how else should we pay for things we want? In a roughly fair way, gas consumption is proportional to how much you drive, how much road you take up, and how much damage you do. Not exactly, but better than all sorts of other way more complicated schemes.

So why the whinging? Do you want better roads or not? Do you think it should be free? Do you think someone else should pay for it?

Get real. Gas taxes ought to be 4X what they are now.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

I’m having a hard time with the opposition to this on regressive grounds.

Traffic is traffic. Wear is wear. A progressive driving/gas/parking fee feels like subsidized/encouraged driving. It gets complicated when you factor in lower income residents living further away of course.

I’m struggling to understand why diesel is excluded. From a wear standpoint, these vehicles contribute much more to the problem. It would probably be easier for these vehicles to avoid the tax if they wanted. Personally, those costs would get passed down to me much more than gas costs, which I wouldn’t be opposed to.

not that Mark
Guest
not that Mark

This tax by law will have to be put towards PBOT. It is being presented and sold as an additional $16M annually to improve the streets. But about $29M of the $257M PBOT budget is general fund dollars that can be taken away by city council, and aren’t even committed to the next four years. Hales has asked all bureau’s to propose a 5% budget reduction to fund his $30M homeless plans. So it’s very unlikely that PBOT’s budget will increase by $16M.

Without a guarantee that the new tax will be a $16M increase over the current total budget, this will be hard to vote for.

Here’s where I got the budget:

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/539188

BJCefola
Subscriber

The gas tax isn’t progressive, but it’s a lot less regressive than some of the other measures considered (who wants to go back to talking about per household fees?) And like it or not, car drivers make up the bulk of road users. It isn’t unreasonable to ask them to pay the cost of that use.

SE
Guest
SE

I just RELUCTANTLY voted YES on this. Exempting trucks and the overhead involved, + the possibility of funds being hijacked weighed against it. But in the end, something for bikes/safety outweighed my concerns.

jeff
Guest
jeff

and where is the evidence that our city counsel won’t misappropriate all of their shiny new funds? city hall has a terrible track record with such things. more people will just buy gas outside of Multnomah county if possible. I’ll be voting no.

Tomas
Guest
Tomas

I’m going to vote no on this tax. Taxing someone for something they don’t own? Not down with that.

Put the tax on fuel, insurance, registration, or whatever other fees vehicle owners already pay. Make US pay more.

yes, I own a car and think this tax unfair. Sure, we all need access to the roads and your income level should not have any influence on your access to these roads, but the more vehicles you drive, the more fuel you buy, and the more miles you drive should determine the tax level.

If I didn’t own a car, I would not want to pay this gas tax the same way I would not want to pay the taxes on weed, cigarettes, or the many other items we tax individually.

Lame.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Say what? The vote is about a per-gallon tax on fuel. Sounds like you’re saying you would be a yes on that?

Some of the explanation talks about per-household regressive yadda yadda… based on people choosing to not change their driving habits — it’s not actually that complicated.

Pat Franz
Guest
Pat Franz

Parking Taxes

Seems to me if you were going to tax for parking cars in presently unmetered spaces, the thing to do would be to have parking tags. Pay one amount, and you can park in any unmetered space. Pay another (much larger) amount, and you can park in metered spaces without paying every time. Make the tags movable from vehicle to vehicle so you don’t have to have one for every vehicle if you have off street parking. If you’re a visitor, you get 3 notices and then you get a ticket. Make every parking meter dispense tags, and encourage stores and gas stations to sell them. Provide the meter readers with smartphones or readers that scan the QR codes on the tags and read the license plates, no need to write anything down.

A little complicated, but it starts to connect the use of public space with the cost to provide and maintain the public space. The break in that connection is what’s behind all this.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

The Oregonian’s rationale for voting against this measure was just plain outrageous. Vote the gas tax down in Portland, and the chances of getting a transportation bill thru the State legislature would improve. Oh, really?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I would do the opposite of whatever the O suggests, regarding pretty much everything. I can’t recall an opinion from their editorial board that I’ve agreed with.

James
Guest
James

Voting no. This city doesn’t manage its money correctly. $26 million surplus but millions are going to the homeless instead. It’s truly sick.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Millions are going to the homeless? Seriously?

Oh wait, nowwwww I get it. They’re camping on the sidewalks so they can be first in line in the morning to pick up these huge checks, amounting to millions, that you describe. 😉

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Even with that logic, it makes better sense to vote yes because most people don’t manage their gasoline correctly. Speeding downhill to a red light: absolutely disgusting.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Thanks to global warming we can look forward to a lot more people sitting in parked cars with the engine running so they can have the AC on.