A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany gas tax: Two vote no

Written February 21st, 2018 by Hasso Hering

Councilmen Sykes, left, and Kellum in a file shot from January 2017.

In the May 15 primary, Albany voters will be asked to approve a city gas tax of 5 cents per gallon. But two councilmen say the idea of a local tax on motor fuel is either wrong or premature.

Councilors Rich Kellum and Mike Sykes voted no on Wednesday night when the council decided to go ahead with a fuel tax proposal pushed by Mayor Sharon Konopa. Bill Coburn, Dick Olsen, Bessie Johnson, and Ray Kopczynski voted to pass a resolution putting the proposal on the ballot.

State law requires that any local motor fuel tax have the voters’ OK. If the Albany measure passes on May 15, the council then could act on an ordinance to impose the tax and spell out the details. It could not, though, go beyond the 5 cents/gallon specified in the ballot measure.

Kellum argued, in vain, for waiting until other mid-valley jurisdictions also pass a local gas tax. He worried that the Love’s truck stop under construction in Millersburg would put Albany stations at an even greater competitive disadvantage if Albany has an extra tax and Millersburg doesn’t.

Sykes referred to increases in the state gas tax, already approved and scheduled to continue, and mentioned discussions in Congress about hiking the federal gas tax by 25 cents per gallon. “I can’t go along with this at all,” he said of the Albany proposal. “There’s got to be a better way.”

The council learned, from Public Works Operations Director Chris Bailey, that the state would charge a $30,000 setup fee to start collecting the tax for the city, but ongoing fees would be minimal. Springfield collected more than $1 million from its 3-cent local gas tax last year and paid less than $5,000 in state handling fees.

The Albany 5-cent tax has been estimated to yield about $1.25 million a year in revenue, which would be dedicated to street maintenance and repair. (hh)

33 responses to “Albany gas tax: Two vote no”

  1. Ron Green says:

    True-cost accounting of the price of carbon has never been done, yet it’s inevitable. This is a very small step in that direction; it’s not surprising that the Chamber of Commerce council members are in opposition.

  2. Mackenzie says:

    That will pay for two and one quarter city blocks repaved a year. At that rate, it will ONLY take 1700 years to renew Albanys streets. Good plan. Not.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      In that case, here are some alternatives:

      1 – Make a pact with all nearby jurisdictions to tax enough to get the job done, or at least make a credible attempt. How about a dollar (85 years)? Two dollars?

      2 – Come to the realization that resource-heavy and land-wasting private automobility for everyone is doomed, let the roads rot, and begin planning for a mostly-car-free future.

  3. centrist says:

    Ahhh. Use tax suckology. Applied in small increments, they won’t notice. Egad, I’ve turned into a TRADITIONAL Republican. In media stat virtus.

  4. Bob Woods says:

    Well, if Albany passes a gas tax, Millersburg can then pass one too and they will be at parity and have money to take care of their own streets and traffic needs. The people building Love’s Truck Stop are NOT counting on local residents to pay for their facility. That would be nuts.

    Saying the tax is “wrong” is a fair and honest statement of principle.

    Saying the tax is “premature” is either a bald faced lie or a political manipulation to play both sides of the street for a problem that has existed for 30 years or more: Adequate funding to take care of your streets.

    Maybe folks ought to be paying attention to those kids in Florida who are saying crearly what they mean and what they want. Adults could learn a lot from them.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      This coming from a guy who drives an electric car that he demanded that the taxpayer subsidize the purchase of…. A truck buying 200 gallons of fuel will certainly price shop unless someone else is paying the bill…. A socialist talking about “bald faced lies” is laughable..

      • ean says:

        I don’t understand what this has to do with socialism… sometimes you border on being a lunatic Kellum.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          ean………….. wanting someone else to pay for what you want………. it’s really not difficult to understand

          • hj.anony1 says:

            Dropping this off right here.

            Socialism (noun): a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

            I do NOT see “wanting someone else to pay for what you want” in that definition. Now we all know that a gas tax is not going to magically fix all the roads in Albany city proper. A bond is surely in the offing to help …..raising our property tax bills more. Who wants that????

            A gas tax seems more appropriate because we can benefit from pass through drivers and tourists. Why complain about that? Look at this: Portland’s gas tax took in more than expect. Gasp… I know!!!


            Coming full circle KELLUM, yes I do want others to pay for fixing our roads. Or at least help pay for the fix.

    • Ron Fecht says:

      The kids that were eating Tide pods last week. We heard them!

  5. Michelle Tatum says:

    All this should ve / could’ve been paid w all that Pepsi money, what happened to that.

  6. Pam D says:

    Maybe the money used to install the overhead lights on Second & Third Avenues could have been better spent on street repairs?

  7. Tony White says:

    Hah! Not bloody likely!

  8. Ray Kopczynski says:

    I hope a little education might some allow some blood pressures to drop. Start here: https://www.cityofalbany.net/street-maintenance

    AFTER you have read each section and digested ramifications, then you’re able to make cogent arguments vs. hyperventilating in a blog…

  9. ean says:

    wait, does this mean another single issue special election? If so, it seems like this could wait until the big mid-term election.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The primary is not a single-issue special election. To determine nominations for state and federal offices, including governor, it will be held regardless of what Albany adds to the ballot. (hh)

      • ean says:

        Thanks for the info, that is good to hear. Still think spending measures should be on the general election ballot in which turnout is higher but at least they aren’t spending for a special election.

  10. hj.anony1 says:

    The first step is that we all agree there is a problem. I’m not sure we are there yet.

    Second is come up with a list of ideas if this pittance of a gas tax does not pass. My cloudy crystal ball is saying no. I base that simply upon the loud voices in opposition.

    So any ideas from those who are against this?

  11. Michelle G says:

    New fuel station going into Millersburg. Live out there. Do not get to vote on Albany taxes that effect us if we shop or do business in Albany since we live out of town. So unlikely to buy stuff in Albany if we get additionally taxed on it without getting to vote on it. Just saying.

  12. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Evidently the city council didn’t like your idea to use the remaining CARA borrowing authority (~$20M) to fix the worst streets downtown.

    Instead of giving up their slush fund, the council opted for a new, piddly, gas tax. No one should be surprised by this.

    And no one should be surprised when ~25-30% of registered city voters send this tax to the dung heap.

  13. Craig Z says:

    Don’t people pay enough of their hard earned money on taxes ? This will hurt those that are financially squeezed already. It will also harm Albany fuel stations as it is very easy to buy gas elsewhere….and we will !

  14. Pete Pyburn says:

    I applaud the two councilors on voting no. After seeing the ridiculous price of the overhead lights downtown, we nee to pull the reins in. If this tax excluded downtown spending and be spent on the rest of our town, then maybe I would approve. That’s a big maybe .

  15. Mary Brock says:

    CARA, CARA, CARA!!! Use CARA funds to fix Albany streets within the CARA boundaries! State urban renewal laws allow CARA funds to be used for public works. CARA board, which is actually the city council and mayor, do not want to touch their precious CARA funds. Instead, they want to string a single light across a few intersections, spending thousands of taxpayer dollars in the process.

  16. matt h says:

    I am sure that this tax has something to do with the huge dept that PERS has accrued.

  17. Theresa Rangner says:

    Who does our Mayor & City Council represent! The proposed gas tax is absurd considering the money lavishly spent on the 2 & 3rd street decorative lamps .

    Ours is a NO Vote in May

  18. tom cordier says:

    the only discussion is about wanting more—never a discussion about reducing any cost of government

    • hj.anony1 says:

      Instead of just throwing out a statement, please try offering some ideas tc. Whose pay do you want to cut? Whose job do you want to rid? What world do you want to live in?

      • Al Nyman says:

        Let’s fire 3000 ODOT employees and use the savings to fix all roads in the state of Oregon. Is that a starting point for hj.anony1. Why don’t you use a real name?

  19. tom cordier says:

    to hj anon. Apparently you have never been in private business in your life in other than an individual contributor. Business always finds ways of “doing more with less” and if they don’t they go out of business. Corporate boards demand portions of individual companies to do more with less and if local mgt says who do you want me to fire- the local mgt is fired because they are not willing to make the hard choices.
    Gov’t (even local) could operate the same way but don’t chose to do that because they don’t have to—but they could. An example–failing business = not profitable–turn around expert buys business, cuts expenses–new business model = healthy company. Detroit has done that and so could Albany.

  20. Bob Woods says:

    Hasso, you gave numbers for what the catenary lights cost, but you didn’t say what the “other” lights at the intersection would have cost. Isn’t the differential cost the real number to see?


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