February 4th, 2010 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

City Hall Notebook: Saltzman Offers Surprise Amendment to Fund Bike Plan

     
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Commissioner Dan Saltzman this afternoon offered a surprise amendment to the resolution adopting the Bicycle Plan for 2030. If approved next week when City Council votes on the overall plan, the unexpected amendment would help fund the ambitious program.

Saltzman's idea, which he offered about mid-way through three hours of testimony and then again after the public had commented on the plan, would tap the city's utility license fees -- money from the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Water Bureau that flows into the city's general fund.

In 2008, Mayor Sam Adams (then a city commissioner) and the rest of City Council directed that a portion of that money pay for transportation projects. Adams has led the Portland Bureau of Transportation since 2005.

There is currently a cap of $4.2 million on that money. But because sewer and water rates are increasing in Portland by 6 percent and 18 percent respectively, utility license fees could surpass the cap in the near future. Saltzman said today he would like to use the money beyond the cap to create a bond for funding the Bicycle Plan.

Adams today closed discussion of Saltzman's amendment fairly quickly by saying, "I have a State of the City address tomorrow." It wasn't clear what he meant by that. Commissioner Nick Fish responded by saying he had child care issues he needed to attend to, which suggests Fish thought Adams needed to go work on his speech.

Adams' aside could mean something entirely different: In recent days Adams has talked behind the scenes about creating an endowment fund to pay for high school kids to go to college. One idea that his office floated included using money from the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services.

City Council will take up the matter next week with additional input from the City Attorney's office. "I think we have a chance to flesh it out," says Saltzman. "I think the mayor's intrigued."
 
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