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Novick: No new street fee, yet

Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick have not thrown their weight behind any new street fee proposals, even though several additional ideas are under discussion.

The three workgroups working on the fee have been briefed or received materials on a number of options in recent days. They include a progressive income tax on city residents and a maximum $135 a month fee on Portland businesses. Another idea has the city spending some of its general fund money on street maintenance and safety projects.

The ideas were put on the table by Portland Chief Administrative Officer Officer Fred Miller, who is facilitating the discussions.

"Charlie and I and PBOT (Portland Bureau of Transportation) staff and Fred, as the convener of work groups, have put some new concepts on the table for the groups to look at, but we have made it clear that none of them is 'our new proposal' -- at this point we are just pointing to alternatives that the groups might want to think about," says Novick.

Novick says he is willing to consider new options if the workgroups support them, however.

"I thought the income tax was something the needs and funding advisory group might be interested in, because several members had in the past expressed concerns about the regressivity of the street fee - and the latest poll suggested that some forms of the income tax might actually be more palatable to Portlanders than the street fee. But we are committed to letting the working groups work for a while before there's any new 'Hales / Novick proposal,'" says Novick.

Novick says he and Hales still hope the City Council will vote on the fee -- formally called the Transportation User Fee -- in November. But he is not predicting what it will include.