Portland voters have narrowly agreed to pay a 10-cents-a-gallon gas tax for the next four years.
City leaders, led by Commissioner Steve Novick, have pushed for the new tax as a way to repair streets and improve the transportation infrastructure. In early election returns, the tax was passing with 51 percent of the vote.
The tax is expected to generate $64 million. It will be the largest local gas tax in Oregon.
The federal gas tax is about 18 cents a gallon — a rate that hasn’t changed in 23 years. States can then add their own tax. Oregon’s tax is in the middle of the pack, at about 30 cents a gallon.
Several Oregon counties already charge their own tax. In Multnomah County, for example, drivers pay an extra 3 cents a gallon.
The gas tax is a compromise measure pushed by the city council after Novick spent several years trying, unsuccessfully, to create a new street fee to pay for road repairs and improvements.
Earlier this month, the city council approved a new tax on heavy truck companies, essentially a companion piece to the gas tax. The truck tax is a 2.8-percent addition to the state’s existing weight-mile tax. City leaders passed it before voters decided the gas tax as a way to ensure that truckers, who have more flexibility about where they fill up, aren’t exempt from helping fund Portland road improvements.