PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland City Council Wednesday unanimously approved a new truck-only tax to help pay for the upkeep of roads and safety projects.
It’s a so-called temporary tax and will apply only to trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds
Portland Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees the Bureau of Transportation, rushed to secure City Council approval one week before voters are asked to approve a separate gas tax projected to raise $16 million annually, according to a report published in the Portland newspaper The Oregonian.
By passing the so-called heavy vehicle use tax Wednesday, Novick took away a key argument used by gas-tax opponents: that the gas tax isn't fair because it exempts vehicles that use diesel.
The newspaper reported the heavy-vehicle tax would run four years before requiring City Council renewal.
It would apply to trucking companies that do business in Portland, including those located beyond city limits but that serve Portland addresses.
The tax won't go into effect until this fall, however, and Novick said he's willing to listen to alternatives from truckers who don't like the concept.
“The important thing is that the trucking industry pay its fair share,” he said, "not the particular mechanism."
The city, led by Novick, has proposed a 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax to be paid on sales of gasoline within its borders. The measure is projected to raise $64 million over four years, at which point it would expire.
Passing the tax would give Portland the highest gas tax in Oregon.
The highest for now is Eugene, at 5 cents a gallon.
The money raised would be split, with $35.8 million spent on road repair and $28.1 million on other projects, including new sidewalks, bike routes and pedestrian crossings along the most collision-prone streets.
“The streets of Portland have been neglected for almost 30 years,” Novick said. “Every year we wait, the street repair problem gets bigger, because the longer you take to repair a street, the more expensive it is.”
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