Portland, Ore., voters to decide on local gas tax continuation

May 16, 2024

Keith Goble


Voters in the city of Portland, Ore., will decide this month whether to renew a local gas tax.

The state’s largest city already has the highest local gas rate in the state.

Originally approved in 2016 and renewed in 2020, Portland voters will decide Tuesday, May 21 whether to renew the dime tax used for road maintenance and safety. Passage of Measure 26-245 would authorize the city to continue collection of the gas tax for another four years.

The dime rate now collected is set to expire at the end of this year. At that time, the tax is estimated to have raised $150 million over eight years.

If renewed at the same tax rate, Measure 26-245 is estimated to raise $70.5 million through 2028.

Companion truck tax

The city also collects a heavy-vehicle use tax.

The eight-year-old tax on trucks has a 2024 sunset date. The 2.6 % local heavy-vehicle use tax is a companion to the local gas tax.

Since enacted, the truck tax collected on companies operating trucks over 26,000 pounds has raised more than $20 million. Revenue is used for street work and safety projects.

The truck tax is down 2.8 % from the version approved by council members in 2016. The percentage has dropped due to additional revenue above what was forecast before the pandemic.

The Portland City Council voted earlier this year to extend collection of the tax through 2028. At that time, the tax is estimated to raise an additional $10 million.

Tax use

The taxes collected on cars and trucks are touted to help the city address road repairs.

Revenue from the city-level tax, however, is not applied solely for road projects. The same rule would apply to the extension.

About one-third of the gas tax revenue, $23.5 million, would be allotted for street repair and maintenance. Another $23.5 million would be dedicated for projects that include pothole repair, signal and street light maintenance and basic safety improvements that include intersection safety improvements and traffic calming.

The rest would be used for other safety projects.

Truck tax revenue is distributed evenly for bridge needs, roadway maintenance needs and operations and safety improvements.

Projects are required to be consistent with the city’s 2040 Freight Plan and on the Priority Freight Network.

Opponents say the public is increasingly weary of high tax rates.

Supporters say rejection of the gas tax continuation could have serious consequences for maintenance and safety services. LL

More Land Line coverage of Oregon news is available.