PENDLETON — The Pendleton City Council has sketched out a roadmap to generate an extra $1 million for road funding, but some parts of the plan will take longer to execute than others.
After deliberating for a little less than an hour, the council agreed to a multi-layered plan.
• A 4-cent gas tax with a 10-year sunset
• A $2 hotel room fee
• A $3 increase to the street utility fee
• An additional $110,000 from the general fund
The council also endorsed the idea of a large event ticket fee, but Mayor John Turner said it might not be implemented for a year or more as the city creates a committee to study the issue.
The council will aim to put the gas tax on the May ballot with the hope that it will be more successful than the 2015 gas tax proposal, which was defeated handily.
The hotel room fee has an interesting wrinkle because the state requires 70% of lodging fees go toward tourism promotion while the other 30% can go in the general fund, the city’s only discretionary fund.
City Attorney Nancy Kerns said the city can work around that by using the lodging fee to pay for a “tourism facility,” like the Pendleton Aquatic Center. This would free up general fund money for streets that would normally go toward a recreational use.
The hotel room fee has been opposed by multiple, local hoteliers and the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, the industry’s statewide lobbying organization.
Under the council’s suggestion, the $3 increase in the street utility fee would be on a sliding scale based on poverty level. Councilor Dale Primmer was in favor of making it completely forgivable for low-income households.
The rest of the new street funding would either come through cuts or fee increases in the general fund.
Mayor John Turner said he would like City Manager Robb Corbett to come back next week with a proposal the council could formally vote on. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 3.