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Novick wants 10 cent city gas tax on May 2016 ballot

Commissioner Steve Novick announced Monday morning that he will ask the City Council to place a ballot measure creating a 10 cent a gallon gas tax on the May 2016 Primary Election ballot.

Novick said the tax would expire in four years after raising $58 million for street repairs and safety projects. He released a tentative list of projects prepared by the Portland Bureau of Transportation that allocated $32.5 million to paving projects and the rest to safety projects.

Novick also released a poll that showed Portland voters would support such a tax by a margin of 55 to 37 percent, with 8 percent undecided. The poll of 400 Portland voters was taken by Lake Research Associates in September.

"Momentum has been building in recent months for a gas tax," said Novick, citing a recent City Club of Portland vote in favor of it. Mayor Charlie Hales and his primary election opponent State Treasurer Ted Wheeler have both endorsed it.

Novick's full statement can be read here.

Novick said he was not worried about appearing for reelection on the same ballot as the gas tax measure, saying he couldn't vote for himself if he didn't pursue it.

Novick and Hales had earlier worked on a street fee measure that was opposed by many Portlanders and did not have majority support on the council. Novick said he thinks both the council and voters will approve a 10 cent a gallon gas tax because it is easy to understand and directly related to the streets.

Joining Novick at the Monday morning press conference were a number of business and community leaders who support the tax. The included developer Greg Goodman, East Portland transportation advocate David Hampsten, Bicycle Transportation Alliance Director Rob Sadowsky, and Chris Rall, the regional coordinator for Transportation for America, a coalition of elected officials and business leaders who support transportation improvements.

"Congress hasn't increased transporation funding, the state hasn't increased transportation funding, so I commend the city for stepping up," said Rall,

Novick says he has talked with the other three members of the council about the tax but not yet asked for their votes. He said the council must vote by January for it to appear on the May 2016 ballot.