Portland, Ore. Voters Will Be Asked to Reauthorize Gas Tax in May 2020

Originally approved by 52 percent of voters in May 2016, the 4-year, 10 cents per gallon city gas tax has outperformed revenue projections. Funds are split between road maintenance and bike and pedestrian projects.

2 minute read

March 30, 2019, 7:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Portland, Oregon

JPL Designs / Shutterstock

"Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said [March 20] that she plans to send a 10-cent gas tax back to voters in May 2020," reported Andrew Theen for The Oregonian. Eudaly, who also oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation, made the announcement during the City Council’s first annual briefing on the 2016 voter-approved gas tax.

The announcement comes as the city is just hitting the halfway mark on its four-year gas tax, but transportation officials say the funding scheme has already and consistently overperformed the city’s initial revenue projections... Portland has collected $39 million in gas tax money so far, $7 million more than initially estimated.

The majority of the gas tax revenue, 56 percent, goes to street maintenance projects while the remainder is spent on pedestrian or bicycle safety.

Constitutional restrictions prevent revenue from being spent on public transit, emailed Elliot Njus, commuting and transportation reporter for The Oregonian.

The May 17, 2016, Measure 26-173 Motor Vehicles Fuels Tax (also see Ballotpedia: Temporary fuel tax referendum: Resolution 37185was sponsored by then-Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, "who was running for re-election to his council seat on the same ballot," reported Njus on May 18, 2016. 

"If that passes, I'm going to be ecstatic," Novick said earlier Tuesday night, as his own race appeared headed to a runoff election. "If I had to choose between the gas tax and going to November myself, I would choose the gas tax anytime."

Sadly for Novick, the choice was made for him in the following November election, but no doubt he is pleased that his successor, Eudaly, is continuing his legacy in having city motorists pay for street maintenance and bike and pedestrian safety and infrastructure improvements. Oregon cyclists also directly pay for the latter when they purchase bicycles and pay the nation's first and only state bicycle excise tax, thanks to the passage of HB 2017.

Portland's truck tax

Theen also reports on the Portland Heavy Vehicle Use Tax that applies to companies that pay the Oregon Weight-Mile Tax. It was approved by the City Council on May 11, 2016, to show voters that heavy trucks, which disproportionately contribute to road wear, would also pay toward road upkeep. Despite the "fuel tax" name in the ballot measure, only gasoline is taxed. 

Revenues are lower than initially projected after the city council bowed to industry pressure, resulting in fewer vehicles paying the fee, reported Gordon R. Friedman for The Oregonian on Nov. 27, 2018.

Related in Planetizen:

Thursday, March 21, 2019 in The Oregonian

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Rendering of wildlife crossing over 101 freeway in Los Angeles County.

World's Largest Wildlife Overpass In the Works in Los Angeles County

Caltrans will soon close half of the 101 Freeway in order to continue construction of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing near Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County.

April 15, 2024 - LAist

Workers putting down asphalt on road.

U.S. Supreme Court: California's Impact Fees May Violate Takings Clause

A California property owner took El Dorado County to state court after paying a traffic impact fee he felt was exorbitant. He lost in trial court, appellate court, and the California Supreme Court denied review. Then the U.S. Supreme Court acted.

April 18, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Wind turbines and solar panels against a backdrop of mountains in the Mojave Desert near Palm Springs, California

California Grid Runs on 100% Renewable Energy for Over 9 Hours

The state’s energy grid was entirely powered by clean energy for some portion of the day on 37 out of the last 45 days.

29 minutes ago - Fast Company

Close-up of hand holding up wooden thermometer in front of blurred street

New Forecasting Tool Aims to Reduce Heat-Related Deaths

Two federal agencies launched a new, easy-to-use, color-coded heat warning system that combines meteorological and medical risk factors.

1 hour ago - Associated Press via Portland Press Herald

View of Dallas city skyline with moderately busy freeway in foreground at twilight.

AI Traffic Management Comes to Dallas-Fort Worth

Several Texas cities are using an AI-powered platform called NoTraffic to help manage traffic signals to increase safety and improve traffic flow.

2 hours ago - Dallas Morning News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.