Will Portland Charge a Monthly Tax on Roads?

New Taxes for Portland, Oregon Residents?

A new tax is up on the table for Portlandians, and not many are pleased. The proposed tax, sponsored by Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick, who is also the head of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, will go towards fixing busy roads like I-5 and I-205. A phone survey was conducted by DHM of Research of Portland during April 2014 that asked Portland residents if they would be inclined to pay $8/month per household or $12/month per household to cover the costs associated with road repairs. Though the survey respondents were about evenly divided in their position on the fee, the majority of survey participants opposed the idea.

However, after the DHM research participants were presented with the ways in which the new fee would improve busy roads, including preventative maintenance such as adding safety features like flashing beacons and reflective signs to intersections, participants were more in favor of the tax. Participants also seemed persuaded by a provision that the tax not be reallocated or used for any other purposes other than road maintenance and safety. Finally, the option for discounts on low-income houses was also a major persuasive factor in the participants final decision. After receiving this information and four more facets to the proposed tax, participants were asked again if they would support the street fee, to which 52% of participants said they would be willing–an increase in 5%, winning the majority vote.

Many Portlandians are upset at the prospect of the city introducing a new road tax, or “street fee”, suggesting that it unfairly places a burden on the Oregon residents, when in fact, many Washingtonians also use Portland thoroughfares for business and pleasure. “SER” commented on a post by Portland’s KATU News, echoing the sentiments of why most opponents of the tax feel the way they do:

portland-new-taxes-for-roads

source: http://fyre.it/M3rGlw.4

As far as road safety goes (cost aside), it is hard to argue against increased preventative measures. Portland DUI Lawyer Andy Green agrees with Commissioner Norvick, and feels as if roads should be well maintained for the safety of all. Norvick recently compared the problem of declining roads and much needed maintenance to a visit to the dentist. Told to KUTV News, Norvick said “Streets are like teeth. If you don’t brush and floss and do regular cleaning, then they get worse and you have to do more expensive things, like root canals and extractions.” These metaphors sound scary to us, especially considering the number of irresponsible and inexperienced drivers on the roads.

Some, like commenter SER, suggest an alternative to the street fees plan in making the busiest roads toll roads, which would cover maintenance fees associated with the proposed road tax. Regardless of where the funds come from, whether that be from a monthly street fee or from tolls, repairs to I-5, I-205 and many other busy roads have long been needed. We hope the city will be able to negotiate a compromise soon.

Houston DWI Lawyer Mario Madrid also agrees that safety on the roads are important but taxing citizens at too high of a rate could cause many other economical problems.