Note to readers: In Portland city gov speak - 'consider' and 'proposed' mean 'backroom deal is done, screw you'
WHAT??? You mean the gas tax doesn't actually pay for all roads? If our sewer bill starts paying for streets will the drivers stop screaming at people on bikes and walking that they need to get off the roads because they don't pay for them?
Can anybody clarify whether any of these policies could actually be implemented before Adams takes off, or whether implementation (as opposed to strategy) is on the table?
@MichaelAndersen — waiting on calls back about that, but the recommendations will go to council as a report in December, according to an email accompanying the draft. Whether council will actually vote on implementing everything or anything in the report is up for debate, though.
If we impose the fee, would they actually pave the fucking streets instead of claiming its the property owners' problem, and then fining property owners when they attempt to fix pot holes on their own? 'Cause that would be a big improvement.
The Portland Plan calls for an overhaul of transportation funding in the City. Currently our strategies are out of alignment. Success at reducing auto usage in favor of active transportation actually reduces our revenue base. Glad to hear our leaders are talking about ways to fix this!
if it was gonna be fair it would include an extra gas tax on those with studded tires
I’m not opposed to paying this fee (we need to maintain roads, and gas taxes aren’t the most stable or equitable funding source), but I would love it if 1) we got to vote on it and 2) the language of what we vote on forced it to be used on actual street maintenance, not down the black hole of pet projects like streetcars.

Without that – and with Tom Miller in charge of PBOT – it's disingenuous for the City to say that this money will be used to address the 59 miles of unpaved/dirt roads in Portland's city limits. Some of it may be used on backlogged road maintenance work, but let's not forget that much of that backlog happened under the Adams/Miller duo.
I wonder if Portlanders can ever pay enough for our services. We just passed three new taxes in the election. Apparently, now its time for a couple more. Portlanders love nothing more than to take money they've earned, stick it into an envelope and send it to the city.

Serious question: Do any of you feel that our services have gotten better in the last ten years, or worse? Because I know the costs have gone up basically every year.

Do any of you start to wonder why you've been paying more and more each year for poorer service? Do you think it is wise under those circumstances to send them even MORE money?

Another real question: Do any of you believe that they actually use this funding to maintain roads rather than pay salaries, build streetcars, and bioswales? What is your confidence level on that? Mine is very low.

Final question: How soon do you think they'd be back with an increase of this fee? Would two years be a good bet?
Anytime the "60 miles of unpaved streets" rationale for the "street fee" line is trotted out, please make sure to boldly note that the ultimate costs of paving those streets is not borne by the city as a whole or these new "street fees," just the adjoining property owners of those streets. The city merely pays the up front costs and then liens the properties for years. Its PR bullshit. But what do you expect from a city with loads of PR professionals on payroll?

How soon do we hear about the "different colors" of money and PBOT's inability to adequately budget for basic services?
Fuckin' A Blabby, spot on again!
Blabby: re: "Serious question: Do any of you feel that our services have gotten better in the last ten years, or worse? Because I know the costs have gone up basically every year."

Sure, but that could be inflation (I honestly don't know). Is there data on how much its increased relative to inflation? Also would be good to see that data amortised for the last 25-50 years, so if folks were underpaying for decades, we might understand why the increase is so sharp now.

I get the grumpy "things were better, now they seem worse" reaction, but if its the case of "we were getting free lunches before, and now folks want us to pay for the actual cost of things!" the reaction may not be warranted.
js, property taxes go up at least 3% per year. Since inflation has been near nil the past five years, it is not inflation, at least recently.

The problem is generous promises to public employees, failure to save for same, and abuse of urban renewal:

For every tax dollar a resident sends to the city, a full quarter goes to paying urban renewal debt. More than a quarter goes to paying benefits for police and fire fighters who are retired and no longer providing us services.

That's over 50% of your tax dollar. Everything else a city must do comes from the remainder. And that is why the city must ask us for more money every year to provide the same (or arguably less) service.

At the same time we pay some of the highest water rates in the country, doubling in recent years, in a place where water falls out of the sky eight months of the year, while Randy Leonard buys property for the Rose Festival and builds a "water demonstration house" in East Portland.

But the city has no incentive to use dwindling money wisely, because they know very well that you are a sucker, who has no intention of actually answering those questions you pose, and will just pony up every time they ask.
Just a note to say I revised the second sentence of this post. It originally said that PBOT was looking to overhaul its funding structure before Sam Adams was out of office—that was vague and a bit misleading. The new sentence says that city council will likely see a report in December on how to revamp PBOT's funding.
I'm a homeowner (who owes the bank most of the value of my house). Since I don't put leaves in the street, I don't have to pay the leaf-sweeping fee. Since I don't own a car, I feel that I shouldn't have to pay this new fee.
Blabby: re: "property taxes go up at least 3% per year. Since inflation has been near nil the past five years, it is not inflation, at least recently."

I though legally its *at-most* 3%.

And I general CPI inflation vs inflation of labor/construction/building/materials required for infrastructure might be different.

"For every tax dollar a resident sends to the city, a full quarter goes to paying urban renewal debt."

Is that interest only? Or is it paying back principle on improvements made in the past?

There are other cost issues at hand, but when the city negotiated for better future benefits instead of raises years ago (in that case it was teachers, I'm not clued in on police/fire negotiations), I see it as us now having to pay for unwise cost-cutting done in previous decades/half century. Not necessarily current gov run amok.
If there's any research that's even close to an apples-to-apples comparison, I'd be fascinated to see how the revenue pie is split by other comparable cities, and what that per capita revenue burden is and how it's actually paid for.

Someone get on that.
Blabby, i agree, damn it i agree! but let us not forget about the small yet used everyday bridges in the area (as well as our streets, i do agree with that! but "streets" are flat on the ground, with a surface under them) the bridges, lol the ones that make us bounce up and down, giving us motion sickness and scaring the SHIT out of us, when a simple semi pulls up next to us at a red light (tualatin exit) "say those need to be fixed too please?!"

"and pony up, every time they ask" <~ loves it!
(holds hands over eyes when a semi passes) "because i dont wanna bridge die" lol

okay, okay and this sucks too "At the same time we pay some of the highest water rates in the country, doubling in recent years, in a place where water falls out of the sky eight months of the year, while Randy Leonard buys property for the Rose Festival and builds a "water demonstration house" in East Portland." (PDX is held by the balls) (smiley face)
As today's 'O' is pointing out, let's not forget the new phone tax Adams is pushing, and Saltzman wants to get something on the next ballot for the Childrens Levy which is taking a hit now that the Library Tax passed....
It ain't stopping.

What you say is true, but, ohhhh shiny streetcars and green bike lanes!!

Who cares if Portland's debt / person is on par with other municipalities who had to file for bankruptcy. Who cares if our regional government has slashed bus service for non-city center workers. Who cares if the Portland Development Commission is giving handouts to real estate developers (with the Grove being the most recent example). Who cares if neighborhoods are being inundated with parking less apartments for residents who will have the same level of car ownership as the rest of the city, setting up the city to create a pay permit system. Who cares if perfectly fine single family homes with kind of small lots are being torn down with the developer splitting the lot and building, not one, but two skinny houses or out of scale monstrosities. Who cares if the inner SE industrial area is just about all set to transform into more condos and retail driving out good paying industrial jobs. Who cares if the city absolutely abuses the "blight" provisions for urban renewal.

We can ride across the Hawthorne Bridge and see how many of our fellow citizens riding bikes came before us and see the progress of the construction of the new light rail bridge!! And then we can go to a fashion show, or a bike craft fair.
@jake - I think bioswales are different, and are actually a good policy decision considering this region's interconnected water supply. All that oil from the streets is either going to end up in the Willamette or bioswales. In ten years the cost of those will be negated, and our water quality will be improved. OR, the bioswales will be overrun with feces and trash. Either way, it's better than not having them at all.

Otherwise, I totally agree with Blabby, more spending does not mean better services or better government. I think the opposite is true: less spending means less corruption and more efficient use of resources.
This comment thread is so weirdly disconnected from reality: bioswales, bike infrastructure, etc. are excellent investments because they have been shown to pay back substantially > $1 for every dollar invested. Swales will prevent us from having to build another $Billion "big pipe" to prevent sewer overflows. For a few hundred thousand dollars, we save billions, and you are bitching?

Look blabby (and friends), just because this spending is on something that you disagree with doesn't mean it is a bad investment.

Drivers have been shown to underpay for their street use by roughly $2k / year, while bikers overpay by about the same amount. If anything, this fee structure will further skew that issue. If we were really looking for equitable structure, we'd be talking about a more direct fee system like gas, or even better, vehicle miles traveled (as mentioned - the "memo supposes" we'll get there).
@Geez - I think you're discounting the number of terrible investments that this city routinely makes.

From Mirk's "Overcommitted!" article: "PBOT was also recently signed up to spend $3.5 million a year (starting in 2013) on the Portland-Milwaukie light rail line, while committing about $1.3 million every year for operating the Eastside Streetcar."

Those two investments alone make up the budget shortfall. I don't know anyone who asked for those projects, or thought they would result in a return on investment, and there was several worthwhile alternatives to these projects that would have cost much less money.

This is why we are raising taxes: to funnel money from you and I and give it to developers and MAX line companies for unnecessary and expensive projects that really benefit few (if any) citizens.

You know what else is an excellent investment that pays back substantially? Preventative road maintenance, which keeps streets from decaying to the point that they need to be completely torn up and redone. An industry standard is that every $1 spent on preventative maintenance saves $10 in future work.

I agree that bioswales are a good investment, but let's not pretend like they could have prevented the need for another Big Pipe project. It's ridiculous that you'd even make such a claim. The city's ancient combined storm water/sewer system could not have been fixed with bioswales, which only help alleviate a relatively small portion of storm water from entering the system.

The fact of the matter is that since Since Adams has been mayor, he has committed over $12.8 million annually to the Sellwood Bridge, Eastside Streetcar, and Milwaukie MAX projects. The total road maintenance budget, which has gone down since he's been mayor? $12.9 million.

At the same time, staff costs levels have gone up considerably with at least 15 full-time-equivalent (FTE) added.

This chart is pretty telling... PBOT's total budget in 2008 (when Adams was elected) was about $150 million. It was proposed at $222 million for 2012-13.…

Tom Miller's discretionary spending has nearly doubled to $100 million, yet the road maintenanace budget has stayed level at $12.9 million (and maybe even gone down... it's tough to tell exactly from the graph).

It is NOT disconnected from reality to ask tough questions and question PBOT's priorities.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.