PORTLAND DEVELOPERS are in a snit over proposed increases to fees Portland Parks and Recreation tacks onto new buildings and homes. But as city council prepares to mull raising some of those "system development charges" on Wednesday, April 15, there's a push for another bureau to up its building fees.
The Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon (CUB), which watches over the city's water and sewer bureaus with an eye toward ratepayers' best interests, says the Oregon Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) has been undercharging for new projects since July 2011, when the recession prompted less-than-allowed fee increases. The bureau has undercharged developers every year since, to the point they're only paying 85 percent of allowable fees, CUB says. The lost revenue? An estimated $2.5 million this year alone.
"This loss of legally allowed revenue to BES is a subsidy to developers that has to stop," CUB says in a brief on the issue. The organization is urging a phased-in increase of the charges over two years, starting with the sewer bureau's next budget. City staffers say they're interested in making the change happen. DIRK VANDERHART
YOUR UBER IS NOT ARRIVING, Portland, and local cab companies are thrilled.
Ride-sharing outfits Uber and Lyft have agreed to stay out of Portland until city council rebuilds antiquated taxi code to include rules for an untested landscape in which traditional cab companies and app-based ride-hailing companies (that don't want to play by heavily regulated taxi industry rules) share the road.
Commissioners put the brakes on Uber's planned reintroduction to Portland at an April 9 hearing, demanding more information on topics like insurance and accessibility before signing off on permitting changes that would have opened the door to ride-sharing companies.
In December, Uber rolled out service in Portland without the city's blessing, only to be met with $67,750 in fines for operating without a business license.
City council was expected to vote on April 15 on regulations that would have allowed Uber and Lyft to operate legally, but decided instead to postpone any decisions indefinitely. Commissioners held a work session on new rules April 14. SHELBY R. KING
THE QUESTION of whether Oregon gets a $15 minimum wage might ultimately be decided by the people.
After doubts emerged over state Democratic leaders' commitment to ratchet up Oregon's $9.25 minimum wage, activists announced April 13 they'd be taking matters into their own hands.
Representatives with a group calling itself 15 Now Oregon say they'll file paperwork by April 17 in hopes of putting a ballot measure to increase the minimum wage before voters in November 2016. To do so, they'll need to collect at least 88,184 valid signatures, a task that will be made easier by labor union support for a wage increase. DVH