December 27th, 2013 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, Transportation

City Carbon Tax Gained "No Traction Whatsoever" in Phone Survey

novicksantaCity Commissioner Steve Novick delivered a letter to Santa Claus at Lloyd Center Mall on Dec. 19, asking for additional transportation funding. - Alex Tomchak Scott

Mayor Charlie Hales is compiling of wish list of potential new taxes and fees to fund the cash-strapped Portland Bureau of Transportation.

But he won't be calling any of them a "carbon tax."

WW reported in November that Hales had ditched his proposed city carbon tax—a combination of gas tax and power utility tax—once a phone survey showed voters disliked it.

Hales confirmed that decision to The Portland Tribune's editorial board this week, saying he's abandoned the carbon tax proposal. He declined to release numbers from the phone survey.

The poll, conducted by the Oregon Environmental Council, asked potential voters whether they'd support increasing utility taxes by 3 percent and adding a city tax of 4.5 cents a gallon at the gas pump. (It also asked who they’d trust to endorse a carbon tax. Options included Al Gore, the Portland Business Alliance and the Trail Blazers.)

Hales' spokesman Dana Haynes now tells WW the numbers were dire.

"We did nothing in 2013 except look to see if it polled well," Haynes says. "And it polled quite poorly. It showed no traction whatsoever."

Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick began campaigning in December for new taxes and fees to help pay for PBOT's backlog of street and sidewalk projects. The most likely candidate is a street maintenance fee—an idea unsuccessfully floated by former Mayor Sam Adams.

Haynes says Novick will make the final call on what tax to pursue—but adds the mayor's office thinks a carbon tax shouldn't be among the options.

"If it's that unpopular, it becomes a very bad candidate for the mission," Haynes says. "From our perspective, it's a non-starter."

 
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