Portland City Council Considering a Street Maintenance Fee

By Katie Fournier

Catlin Gabel school, Catlin Speak

For the past several years, Portland City Council has been considering the adoption of a street maintenance fee—also known as a transportation utility fee, road user fee, or street utility fee—which would charge residents and businesses either an $8 fee or a $12 fee.

Portland Commissioner Steve Novick was in favor of an increased income tax rather than a flat fee, but due to overwhelming opposition to the increased income tax, Novick has shifted to a position of preparing to support a street fee.

Mayor Charlie Hales has been pushing for an option to raise revenue without having to turn to the voters. With an $8 fee, the city could raise $34 million in revenue while a $12 fee could raise as much as $53 million.

With the $8 fee, 150-225 miles of pavement, 30-40 signalized intersections, two to five bridges, 60-76 intersections, and 200-201 blocks of new sidewalks would be preserved or maintained according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Even more could be done with the $12 fee to rehabilitate Portland’s infrastructure.

Officials at the Portland Bureau of Transportation spent two town hall meetings last week outlining where revenue collected from a street maintenance fee would be spent.

Commissioner Novick also spent time with business owners at Venture Portland last week to discuss how the new fee might influence businesses with estimated costs and models.

There will be yet another transportation town hall meeting Thursday evening at the Multnomah Arts Center from 6:30-8:30 pm.

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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