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Novick to pitch gas tax measure Wednesday


PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Commissioner Steve Novick will formall present his temporary 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax proposal on Wednesday. The city's street mainteance backlog now exceeds $1 billion.Commissioner Steve Novick is scheduled to present his temporary 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax proposal to the City Council on Wednesday afternoon.

The proposal would raise an estimated $64 million over four years for street maintenance and improvement projects, and then sunset.

Novick is in charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. A few hours before the presentation, he will pitch the measure he wants to appear on the May 17 Primary Election ballot to the Columbia Corridor Association at its monthly breakfast meeting. The group represents businesses along the Oregon side of the Columbia River.

"Our position is generally we need to spend more money on the roads. Every $1 in maintenance we don't spend now is $12 we'll have to spend on repairs in the future. But we won't take a stand on the measure until it's on the ballot," says CCA Executive Director Corky Collier.

The proposal is supported by the City Club of Portland, which recommended it in a study report adopted last year.

"At the moment, the most technically feasible (funding option) is a city gas tax. A gas tax would generate revenue from most users — including those transporting goods across Portland streets and those who don’t reside in Portland — and would discourage congestion and pollution," reads the report, titled "Portland Streets: End the Funding Gridlock."

The proposal is opposed by the Oregon Fuels Association, a statewide organization which represents fuel distributors, retailers, commercial fueling and heating oil marketers.

The City Club study found that 49 percent of Portland's busiest streets are in poor condition and the city needs to spend an additional $119 million a year for 10 years to improve the pavement system to fair or better condition. The maintenance backlog now exceeds $1 billion.

Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales pursued several proposals to raise money maintenance and safety improvements — collectively called a street fee — in 2014 but failed to win the support of a majority of the council.

You can read more about the proposal at www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/64188.