PENDLETON — In the span of a few minutes, the Pendleton City Council made official a plan to fund street repair that should dominate council activity for much of the year.
At a meeting Tuesday, the council unanimously approved a motion that directs staff to draft ordinances that will create three new taxes and fees for street maintenance:
• A 4-cent gas tax
• A $2 hotel room fee
• A $3 increase to the street utility fee
Additionally, the council has committed to make $110,000 in cuts to the general fund to free up more money for road repair.
The council’s vote doesn’t mean these taxes and fees are automatically enacted. City Attorney Nancy Kerns said city staff will return with more definitive proposals at a later date.
“It’s not set in stone at this point,” she said. “You’re just asking us to start putting things on paper and present them to you.”
Some of the concepts will also require more steps than a simple council vote. The council will have to approve the procedural steps to put the gas tax on the May ballot, where voters will determine its fate.
And some of these proposals could face organized campaigns against them at future public hearings. Representatives for local oil distributors and the hospitality industry have voiced their opposition to the gas tax and hotel room fee, respectively.
The council’s decision caps months worth of discussion over the best way to bolster street funding for the city. The council had considered a ticket fee on large events as a part of that discussion, but the city instead elected to form a committee to further study the issue at the urging of local event promoters.
If all these measures are approved, the city estimates it will raise more than $1 million per year for road maintenance and begin to reverse the system’s steady deterioration over the past few decades.