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Troutdale fuel tax collection method discussed at council

With the November election rapidly approaching, the Troutdale City Council introduced an ordinance to allow the Oregon Department of Transportation to collect a city fuel tax, if approved by voters.

ODOT already collects the state motor vehicle fuel tax and has a collection system in place, whereas Troutdale does not.

After months of discussion and exploration of options to increase street maintenance funds, the council agreed in July to place the 3 cent tax on the Nov. 3 ballot.OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The TA truck stop and other Troutdale gas stations may be subject to a city gas tax, depending on the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.

The city is reporting that less funding is expected to pass through from the statewide gas tax and into the city, meaning less revenue that can be used for street maintenance.

Barney and Worth, a consulting agency hired by the city to test the tax waters, have found that as long as the tax revenues are only used to maintain streets — as required by law — residents are supportive of the decision.

“This is the implementing ordinance and will only be (utilized) if the voters approve the fuel tax,” said Troutdale City Attorney Ed Trompke. “It allows the city manager to enter into an agreement with ODOT in order to be more efficient. They do charge a small fee, but far less than what it would cost the city (to collect the tax).”

Despite some public opposition at past meetings, raising concern about how the tax will effect gas prices at the pump, there was no discussion during the ordinance’s first reading Sept. 22.

“There’s no relationship between a gas tax and the price gasoline is sold for. The idea that gas taxes are immediately going to drive up fuel pump prices (3) cents, it isn’t going to happen that way,” Clark Worth said in July. “Based on experiences of other cities, you cannot predict that will be the effect.”

The measure would be implemented Jan. 1, 2016, if passed by voters. It also includes a public accountability system to track gas tax revenue and program expenditures, further soothing public concern for their tax funds.

The City Council will vote on the ordinance at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 13.



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