PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Portland Mayor Charlie Hales shut down any notion that a city sales tax or bicycle fees would raise enough money to fix the city’s streets on Monday.
“The positive side is that we did succeed in very effectively paving a lot of streets with a limited amount of money. The bad news is we’re not paving them anywhere near fast enough,” said Hales.
He praised the Transportation Bureau for paving 100 miles of streets during the past year – twice as many as the year before, but is still isn’t enough, according to Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick.
For that reason, the pair is pushing for a street fee that could raise $50 million annually.
“We’re responsible for almost 5,000 lane miles of streets. We’ve gotten to 100 lane miles this past year, so that’s about once every 50 years. We should be getting there about once every 12 years,” said Novick.
The proposed street fee would cost homeowners about $12 a month, but there’s a strong opposition to the idea, especially from businesses that could pay thousands of dollars based on the amount of traffic they generate.
City council has delayed voting on the fee until they get input from citizen work groups that have yet to be formed.
“My experience with the City of Portland is a lot of the money has been misspent. If my personal budget was like the City of Portland, I’d probably be living under a bridge,” said Craig Roberts, who is against the street fee.
Novick said he pledges to ensure the money given to the Bureau of Transportation will continue to be sent wisely.
“Our pledge to you is the Bureau of Transportation will continue to do what they’ve done this last year – spend the money as carefully, as efficiently, as effectively as humanly possible,” said Novick.
Hales and Novick are also working on a charter amendment, specifying that the street fee will be used for transportation purposes only.
The charter amendment will likely be on the November ballot for voters around the same time city council is set to vote on the street fee.