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City surveying about road fee

by: KOIN NEWS 6 - Residents in Portland could face a household fee or new tax in order to help with transportation issues, including road repairs int he city.Portland is conducting a phone survey about whether residents would support a monthly household fee for city transportation funding.

The problems motorists face while on the road do not have much room for debate with Portlanders.

However, the options for how the city is trying to get those issues fixed are up for debate.

A phone survey asked Portland residents questions about whether they would support an $8 or $12 per month household fee. That fee would be charged to all homeowners and renter with the cash collected going towards fixing and maintain city roads.

Earlier this year, the city released results of another poll that showed the people of Portland rate general street maintenance, safe pedestrian street crossings and safety around schools as their top transportation priorities.

Commissioner Steve Novick and the bureau are trying to figure out how they will pay for those improvements that could include more fees.

“What we’d have to ask people is are you willing to cut other services in order to fix the roads? Would you be willing to cut police or fire or parks to fix the roads?” said Novick.

Novick said if residents are not willing to cut other services, the city is going to need a way to raise more money.

“At some point we need to ask people the question, ‘If all the roads went away, how much would you pay to bring them back?’ Because the truth is the roads are gradually going away,” said Novick.

Other funding options being considered are a half or 1 percent sales tax increase or an income tax increase. However, two tough questions were raised in regards to these options with the first being whether commissioners would pass any new tax or fee without letting the public vote on it.

Novick said it is too early to say, but they could do so without a public vote.

The other question raised is how a household fee would be assessed and collected.

Novick said the fee would be collected in a similar way that the art tax has been.