Homeowners, business owners prepare to pay new Portland street fee

Homeowners, business owners prepare to pay new Portland street fee »Play Video

It looks like Portland city commissioners will be implementing a new "transportation use fee" without a vote from the public, and it has some homeowners and business owners upset.

Homeowners can expect to pay about $12 a month and businesses will pay much more than that, depending on factors like the size of the building.

“Everybody that I know personally, that owns their own business, also owns their own home,” said Richard Kiely, who has a home office for his printing business. “I’m going to be paying twice.”

Kiely says he’s willing to “pay my fair share” but he doesn’t like how the city is handling this plan.

“I find this to be a bit misleading,” he told City Commissioner Steve Novick at a meeting Wednesday morning.

Kiely feels the city revealed the potential for a small fee for homeowners but didn’t talk about the fee for businesses, that will cost them thousands of dollars a year, until recently.

“Where do you think these people are going to get this money? They're going to have to raise their prices to consumers,” he said.

“We understand this is going to be a hard thing for businesses,” said Novick. “This was the least problematic option.”

Novick said a city survey showed people liked a sales tax option less than a street fee.

The proposed plan will use close to half the money for safety projects, like sidewalks, crosswalks and green ways, while slightly more than half will be used for street maintenance. Half the funds will come from residents while the other half will come from non-residential sources, like businesses and universities.

“The feeling I got was it's all over but the writing on the wall,” said Kiely about Wednesday’s meeting between business owners and the city. “Alternative views were not welcome.”

He worries businesses will decide to leave the city.

“There are a ton of small businesses moving from Portland proper to Clackamas and Vancouver,” Kiely said. “Because of fees like this.”

City officials said they will reveal more about the street fee proposal at a scheduled news conference Thursday morning. City Council is scheduled to take up the issue next week.