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Novick to ask City Council to place gas tax on the ballot

Commissioner Steve Novick says he will ask the City Council to place a measure to impose a temporary local 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax on the ballot to help fund street repair and safety projects.

It will be aimed at the MAy Primary Election ballot and last four years. A hearing on the measure will be scheduled for Jan. 27.

"Portland has been under-investing in its streets for 30 years," Novick said Wednesday morning at the beginning of a presentation of a City Club of Portland report on street funding, which calls for such a ballot measure.

City Club presenters told the council a local gas tax would be easy to collect and directly related to street usage.

Novick is already scheduled to speak in favor of it before the Columbia Corridor Association during its Jan. 27 breakfast meeting.

Mayor Charlie Hales told the Portland Tribune on Dec. 29 that passing such a measure was one of his top priorities during his final year in office.

During the hearings, Hales said that even if such a tax measure passes, the city will still have a "huge unfunded liability" because the city annexed a large portion of mid-Multnomah County in the 1980s that did not have streets built up to city standards.

City Club presenters said their report includes a number of other recommended fees and taxes to support the streets, including a $2 a month payroll tax on non-city residents.

Several people at the presentation complained about not being allowed to testify on it. Hales said public testimony will be taken on Jan. 27.

You can read the report at www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=50265&a=558864.

An earlier Portland Tribune story on the hearing can be read at portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/272141-147838-city-club-report-calls-for-gas-tax-other-new-fees-to-fix-streets