Heated talks at residential street fee meeting

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 26 at 8:01 AM

PORTLAND -- People had a chance to voice their opinions on the controversial street maintenance fee during a hearing for the residential part of the proposal Wednesday night.

That town hall meeting was scheduledwas at Kaiser Permanente on North Interstate Avenue in Portland. The business part of the proposal went up for debate on Monday. 

For two hours, Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick listened to suggested tweaks on the proposal or new ideas to find $50 million a year to help fund road, bridge and sidewalk repair and maintenance.

Around 150 people attended the meeting, with many voicing strong opinions against the residential fees. 

According to city officials, the federal gas tax hasn't been increased since 1993, and even then it wasn't made to adjust for inflation. This means that the cost of construction materials to fix streets now far outweighs the money that's coming in.

When asked if the public could vote on the proposal, instead of the council voting on it in November, Hales challenged Monday's crowd to come up with $1 million to put it on the ballot.

"We're not willing to have a general retail sales tax in this state so we have to keep paying for things one by one, whether it's our schools, the arts or our streets," said Hales. "I think it's a dumb way to run a state. But we're stuck in that dumb way of running a state because Oregonians have rejected a sales tax nine times."

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