Portland City Council will consider sending gas tax renewal to voters in 2024

By Alex Zielinski (OPB)
Dec. 26, 2023 2 p.m.

Portland voters may be asked to renew the citywide gas tax next year.

Cars travel along Interstate 5 through Portland, Ore., Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.

Cars travel along Interstate 5 through Portland, Ore., Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB


Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps, who oversees the city’s transportation bureau, said he plans on asking his colleagues on City Council to refer the tax to the May 2024 ballot. The 10-cent-per-gallon tax could generate an estimated $70.5 million over a four-year period on programs that improve Portland’s streets.

The tax funds the city’s Fixing Our Streets program, which uses revenue to fill potholes, maintain traffic signals, repave residential roads and improve traffic safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

The tax has raised nearly $150 million since its introduction in 2017. In that time, the program has added new pedestrian crossing signals across busy streets, improved sidewalks along common walking routes to schools, and installed street lights and speed bumps along streets where the majority of deadly car crashes occur.


The initial tax passed in 2016 with 53% of voter support. In 2020, 77% of voters approved its renewal.

If renewed, the Portland Bureau of Transportation estimates the tax will cost average Portland drivers who use gas-powered vehicles about $2.50 per month.

The proposal comes amid a budget crisis at the PBOT, which relies heavily on local and state gas tax revenue. The bureau’s estimated $32 million gap in its annual budget is due in part to fuel sales flagging in recent years, from the pandemic’s impact on travel and the growing popularity of electric vehicles. The bureau’s budget also depends on public parking revenue, which has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

And yet the local gas tax remains a central source of PBOT funding. In September, the bureau estimated that, if the tax were not renewed in 2024, PBOT would suffer an additional $20 million in budget cuts. At the time, Mapps expressed hesitation in taking that decision to the ballot.

“Frankly, what we can’t afford to do is have this be turned down by the voters,” Mapps said. “That would be yet another truly devastating blow.”

Now Mapps, who is running for mayor in 2024, said he has faith in his colleagues’ votes.

“I’m so excited to bring this program to City Council next month,” he said in a press statement. “I am confident and hopeful that they will strongly endorse this and send it to voters for the May election.”