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Voters approve fuel tax to fund street, sidewalk improvements, sunsets in 10 years

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - The fuel tax approved by voters in the Nov. 5 election will fund street and sidewalk maintenance and safety improvements. Updated Nov. 8.

Gas stations in Scappoose city limits will soon implement a 3-cent per gallon tax, which will fund street and sidewalk improvements in the city.

Measure 5-275 passed in the Nov. 5 special election with 52.9% of the vote, or 1,043 out of 1,972 votes cast, according to results from the Columbia County Clerk's Office as of Thursday, Nov. 7.

Scappoose City Council referred the measure to voters this summer. Despite city staff's recommendation that the measure be a permanent tax, City Council elected to add a 10-year sunset clause.

Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge said he thought the sunset clause made the measure easier for voters.

"I think it helped in that people know it's not a permanent thing, people know we're trying to do a certain amount of projects," Burge said.

Before votes were tallied, Burge was "cautiously optimistic," he said Wednesday.

The tax will take effect Jan. 1.

Automobile fuel sold within Scappoose city limits will have a 3-cent-per-gallon tax on top of existing state and federal taxes.

Multnomah County currently has a 3-cent tax, while Washington County has a 1-cent tax. Portland has a 10-cent tax. In addition to an 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal tax, Oregon has a 34-cent tax and Washington state has a 49-cent tax.

Effective Jan. 1, Oregon's fuel tax will increase to 36 cents per gallon.

The revenue "may only be used for construction, reconstruction, improvement, repair, and maintenance of streets and sidewalks within the city," the Scappoose measure notice explained.

The tax is expected to generate $300,000 annually for the city, or $3 million over the duration of the tax. Roughly 10 million gallons of gas are sold in Scappoose annually, explained Huell White, a Scappoose program analyst.

For a commuter from Scappoose to Hillsboro, the tax would likely cost under $1.50 each month.

City staff has estimated that 80% of the revenue from the gas tax would be paid by commuters passing through the city, rather than residents, according to a status report prepared by White.

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- Scappoose to put fuel tax on November ballot

- Letters published Oct. 18, 2019

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