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City hopes 2015 Oregon Legislature will increase gas tax

Portland could rebuild 92 lane miles of poorly maintained city streets if the 2015 Oregon Legislature increases the state gas tax 5 cents per gallon.

Such an increase would allow the city to issue $93.5 million in bonds for road projects that would be repaid over 20 years. That would only release the existing reconstruction backlog by one-third, however.

City officials disclosed that figure during the first meeting of a newly-appointed workgroup considering how businesses should pay the local street fee proposed by Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick. Hales and Novick have previously said passage of the fee could help persuade the Legislature to increase the gas tax — which is split with cities and counties — next session.

Although the Legislature is widely thought to be considering approving a new transportation funding package next session, this is the first time Portland officials have estimated its benefit. The figures were included in a handout to those who attended the Monday afternoon meeting.

Hales and Novick hope the City Council will adopt the fee in November.

The handout included a number of options for raising $25 million a year from business properties, the amount targeted by Hales and Novick. They included:

• A city Business License fee increase of .86 percent.

• A city Business Gross receipts tax.

• A city Commercial Parking Tax on commercial parking lots and structures.

Smaller businesses could be exemptions from some or all of the charges.

The workgroup is scheduled to meet several times in coming months to recommend a preferred fee to Hales and Novick.