Incremental 3-cent-per-gallon tax would fund street maintenance
With unofficial results approaching 54 percent of voters in support on Tuesday evening, Nov. 3, the Troutdale fuel tax appears on its way to reality. Final tabulations will not be issued until Nov. 18 after Multnomah County tracks down any ballots with missing signatures, late arrivals or with unclear votes.
The measure was placed before voters after months of debate and planning by the Troutdale City Council to ensure its success. Settling on a 3-cent tax, the council designed the fuel tax to be phased in one penny per gallon at a time for the next three years. The revenue will be used to supplement dwindling street maintenance funds. Before the tax was sent to the ballot, Troutdale was facing a $500,000 discrepancy between state funding and needs to maintain the citys street system.
"The majority understood this is a wise investment," said Mayor Doug Daoust in a press release. "Every $1 spent on street preservation saves up to $12 for reconstruction."
A fuel tax was selected in lieu of a street utility fee or increased vehicle registration fees, based on results from a focus group held in February. Most concerns from the council and Troutdale residents stemmed from an assumed link between prices at the gas pump and the gas tax, but studies have shown there is no discernible link.
Eugene, for example, has a 5-cent gas tax, yet fuel prices are lower than Cottage Grove, which only has a 3-cent tax.
Once implemented Jan. 1, 2016, tax collection will be managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation thanks to a preemptive ordinance the council recently passed in October. The council chose this route, as ODOT already collects the state motor vehicle tax, eliminating the need for Troutdale to set up a potentially costly system.
The main reason the community supports continued funding for the maintenance program is it extends the useful life of the pavement before it has to be rebuilt. With proper maintenance, the pavement can last up to 100 years, said Troutdale Public Works director Steve Gaschler. And the money collected in Troutdale stays in Troutdale."
The measure included an accountability system, to demonstrate where the tax funds are being used.
"We are going to show the public exactly where the dollars are going," said Councilor Larry Morgan.
Come January, a public reporting system will track revenues and expenditures, creating reports available to the public.
For more information, visit Troutdale's website.