Will suburbanites pay Portland street fee?

Final vote now set for Dec. 17

Abbey Kolpin of Gresham said she would be willing to contribute to the Portland street fee if the Portland City Council decides to do that, Dec. 3, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Abbey Kolpin of Gresham said she would be willing to contribute to the Portland street fee if the Portland City Council decides to do that, Dec. 3, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Portland city leaders pushed back a final vote on the proposed street fee one week while at the same time looking into whether it’s legal to charge people who work in Portland and live elsewhere.

The final city council vote for the Portland street fee plan is now set for Dec. 17. The extra week will allow a few new amendments to be added.

One of those amendments would prevent some small business owners from having to pay twice – once for their work and once as a resident.

Traffic cones in the Portland metro area (KOIN 6 News, file)
Traffic cones in the Portland metro area (KOIN 6 News, file)

Commissioner Steve Novick deflected the notion that people outside Portland would be taxed without being represented if the city council opts to charge suburbanites a street fee.

“People in Washington state who earn income in Oregon pay Oregon income taxes,” he said, and added that if you live in Oregon and shop in Washington you pay Washington’s sales tax.

There is precedent to ask people in Beaverton, Gresham and other cities to chip in to improve the roads in Portland, he said.

“If somebody earns an income here, they’re using the roads,” Novick said. “Why would you have an income tax that only applies to people who live here, and the answer is we weren’t sure if legally and practically we could.”

Abbey Kolpin of Gresham said she would be willing to contribute to the Portland street fee if the Portland City Council decides to do that, Dec. 3, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Abbey Kolpin of Gresham said she would be willing to contribute to the Portland street fee if the Portland City Council decides to do that, Dec. 3, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Commissioners asked Portland’s city revenue department to see if it’s legal, would the fee come out of people’s paychecks and how would the city of Portland collect the fee.

Gresham resident Abbey Kolpin told KOIN 6 News she drives in Portland “all the time and I can see the cracks and the bumps and everything so I wouldn’t mind pitching in. … Even though I live in Gresham, I totally would not mind it (paying a street fee) at all.”

Though the Portland City Council will vote on the street fee December 17, Novick said the city revenue bureau will need more time to study the idea of having suburbanites chip in. That part, he said, would be added later.

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