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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hales, Novick to Unveil $12 Monthly "Street Maintenance Fee" Proposal Tomorrow

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, May 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM

UPDATE: Chris Warner, chief of staff to Steve Novick, now tells the Mercury there was a misunderstanding in an earlier conversation. The street fee will not be $12, he says. Despite a conversation about the $12 mentioned in the fee sheet, Warner had meant to say only that the amount generally will be shared tomorrow. He's not saying what the amount is.

ANOTHER UPDATE: It now looks like the actual proposal will be $11.56 per month.

Original post:

To date, discussion around a potential "street maintenance fee" has centered around two options— an $8 monthly fee for households (with an attendant cost for businesses) or a $12 monthly fee. Mayor Charlie Hales and city Commissioner Steve Novick haven't indicated which they'll put before city council next week.

But the Mercury's learned Hales and Novick have settled on the $12 option. .

Chris Warner, Novick's chief of staff, confirms a $12 fee proposal will be announced tomorrow, with a discounted rate of $8 a month for low income households.

That's borne out by documents that the mayor and Novick have been circulating around town. The president of the St. John's Boosters is sharing a fee schedule he says the pair of officials gave him just yesterday. Here's the top of that document, dated May 14, which sets out the residential fees Hales and Novick have in mind.

Screen_Shot_2014-05-21_at_12.01.53_PM.png

Check it out here and here.

"I attended a meeting with Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick this morning to discuss the proposed 'street fee,'" Derek Shaw posted on a Facebook page for St. Johns residents. "Currently this decision is going to be made by the mayor and council without a vote of the citizens. They are trying to move quickly (and quietly) to make a decision and may do so before the end of the month."

As Willamette Week reported yesterday, Hales and Novick plan to put a proposal before city council next week.

It's tough to say whether the fee structure for businesses presented on the new documents is different from one PBOT's handed out in recent weeks [PDF]. Businesses are classified differently in each. Warner says the document is only to give business owners an idea of the range they might pay. The city will unveil a fee calculator tomorrow that will offer a more-concrete notion.

"The important thing is the calculator," Warner says.

Under the proposed fee schedule, which is based on estimated monthly trips a business generates, day care centers could be charged anywhere from $136 to $981 a month, with an estimated average of $452. A "book superstore" (we're looking at you, enormous bookstore in the Pearl) would pay between $150 and $286, with an average of $239. Fast food restaurants could pay anywhere from $144 to a whopping $2,894 per month (average: $846). Large government office buildings could pay as much as $3,435 a month. And gas stations, which might have a crucial say in this fee, might pay $37 to $467 a month.

Here's part of the math that goes into those calculations.

Screen_Shot_2014-05-21_at_12.12.33_PM.png

The decision to go with $12 per month over $8 has would have implications beyond just more money. The city estimates it could raise $53 million a year with a $12 fee, compared to $34 million for the smaller tax. But the city's also said it would spend revenues from the more-expensive option differently than it would with an $8 fee. Under the $12 option, much more money will got toward safety improvements (like crosswalks, flashing beacons, bike lanes), than it would with the lesser amount. See?

Screen_Shot_2014-05-21_at_12.17.20_PM.png
  • PBOT

Shaw, the St. Johns booster, says the mayor explained the city wants to avoid a vote on the street fee. As we noted earlier today, the last legitimate street fee proposal was killed in 2008 for fear it couldn't withstand a public vote.

"Hales stated this morning that he did not want to see this go to a public vote because the measure's campaign would cost the City too much," Shaw writes on Facebook. "The Mayor said that he would prefer that Portlanders let he and the other council members know if they oppose the new fee (tax) and to recommend other ways to increase funding for the Bureau. So, I would humbly recommend that you each do exactly that."

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