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Two public street fee forums set

Two new public town halls have been set for comment on the proposed Transportation User Fee.

These are the first forums to be scheduled since the City Council agreed to consider a wide array of possible revenue sources, including residential and business fees, a motor vehicle fee, a gas tax, a sales tax, a business profits tax, or some combination of them.

“There’s no question that we need to pay to maintain our streets. If someone has a way to improve the Transportation User Fee and still raise $50 million a year, let’s hear it. Our community can no longer pretend that Congress or the state will save us from the need to invest in basic maintenance,” says Mayor Charlie Hales, who will attend the forums with Transportation Commission Steve Novick and Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat.

The forums are scheduled as follows:

Town Hall on Business and Non-Residential Fee: 8 to 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, June 24, at Venture Portland, 1125 SE Madison St., Suite 112.

Town Hall on Residential Fee: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 25, at Kaiser Permanente’s Town Hall, 3704 N Interstate Ave.

According to the Mayor's Office, the forums will provide an opportunity for the public to speak with transportation staff, ask questions, and make comments to the Hales, Novick and Treat.

Hales and Novick had proposed a monthly fee for households and a different monthly fee for businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations based on the motor vehicle trips they generate. But the council delayed the proposal on June 4 in the face of public and business confusion and opposition.

The council has now said it will consider new proposals on Nov. 12. It will also consider placing a measure on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot restricting money raised by the fee to transportation projects at this Wednesday's council meeting.

“Too many children are forced to walk to school in a ditch for lack of sidewalks,” Novick says. “I understand that some business owners want to adjust the transportation fee to better protect small businesses. If we can’t find a way to improve it, Mayor Hales and I are prepared to move forward this fall with the proposal on the table.”

“Even if you don’t own a car, you count on Portland’s freight routes for food and other essentials,” Treat says. “Everyone benefits from our streets, so everyone needs to help pay for proper maintenance and safety improvements.”