A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Ready for an Albany gas tax?

Written February 14th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

The council at work Wednesday on its gas tax resolution. Front to back: Rich Kellum, Ray Kopczynski, Mike Sykes, City Manager Peter Troedsson, Mayor Sharon Konopa, City Attorney Sean Kidd, Dick Olsen, Bill Coburn.

The city council is working on a plan for a 5-cent/gallon local gas tax that would have motorists pay an estimated million-plus dollars a year more at Albany stations than they otherwise would. The money would go for street repairs, and voters are to get their say in May.

On Wednesday night the council, minus Bessie Johnson, worked on the text of a resolution calling the election for the primary on May 15. To beat the filing deadline, they plan to vote on the resolution at a special meeting next Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Councilor Rich Kellum voted against going ahead at a work session Monday. On Wednesday, he said it’s wrong to submit the measure in May, when fewer people vote, rather than in the general election in November.

Mike Sykes voiced doubts about a local gas tax as the best way to raise street money, saying it’s like “shooting BB’s at an elephant.” The city has a backlog of street repairs of $20-$30 million, and the 5-cent/gallon gas tax has been estimated to yield $1.25 million a year. Sykes preferred a bond issue instead.

Mayor Sharon Konopa wants to make clear that the money would go to fixing up “local” or residential streets. And the measure will likely include language to that effect.

Questions the council debated Wednesday included: Would the tax apply to only gas and diesel fuel or to other motor fuels as well? Would the state charge a fee for collecting the tax from Albany retailers and then sending it to the city? Should there be a special fund to account for the local gas tax revenue?

In the last 30 years or so, Albany voters have twice turned down a local gas tax. It’s not at all clear why the council expects — if it does — a different outcome now. (hh)

Posted in: Commentary, News

19 responses to “Ready for an Albany gas tax?”

  1. Lyle says:

    And what about electric vehicles that use the same streets as fuel powered?
    How will their street use be taxed?

    • Nommel says:

      Umm…Us electric car drivers pa additional taxes through the utility taxes on our electricity bills. Why not determine through vehicle registrations which residences own electric vehicles and transfer a portion of their utility taxes to the road use basket? No need to tax us more just because we use less gasoline, After all, most naive readers may not realize there are very few 100% electric cars on the road at this time. We have hybrids that also consume gas. We don’t want to be double dipped on taxes for our positive contributions to the environment. After all, these cars cost much more to purchase to begin with. That also means more tax paid on purchases now that there is a new 1/2% tax. Once they get the 5% local fuel tax it becomes to easy to increase it incrementally just like the water run off fee we got stuck with.

  2. Roy says:

    I commute to Corvallis daily, I would just buy fuel there until they catch on and raise fuel price to take advantage of others doing the same.
    What is Albany doing with all the new Marijuana tax money? Lottery money is supposed to be helping with schools.

  3. Rolland says:

    Has the Council figured out how much gas will be purchased from places outside Albany if a gas tax passed. We visit family in the Portland and Eugene areas frequently, it’s easy so buy gas elsewhere.

  4. Shawn Dawson says:

    This is one of the few taxes I would support — if and only if every dollar goes to street maintenance.

    Regarding electric vehicles, this is an unresolved issue which does need addressed separately from this proposal. For pure electric vehicles, it seems like the easiest solution would be a simple per-mile tax assessed by the DMV upon registration renewal. This could mean that all electric vehicles move to a yearly rather than every-other year renewal system, and require that ownere report mileage upon renewal. This would be simpler than the tracking device that Hasso tested out.

    For hybrid cars — which use gas and electricity, it is trickier still. But this should not delay the need to maintain our roads today.


  5. Vernon says:

    Wow, tax on gas, tax on water run off. What’s next?

  6. rivett says:

    This is a hard subject to tackle. Nobody likes paying more at the pump, but if they were to do this by property taxes, it would probably hurt more. At least this way it captures all the street users who don’t necessarily live here and pay taxes, but still use the streets and fill up here.

    On the down side, Costco may not be the cheapest place to fuel up anymore!

    • Bob Stalick says:

      This is a tax I can support. The money for the increase in price at the pump stays here in Albany and is not shipped off to line the pockets of Big Oil.
      We have some of the lowest gas prices in the mid-valley and have had for many years. It may not be enough to do the job, but every bit helps. Our streets sure need help!

  7. Sandi Foster says:

    I have lived in this town for 40 years. I have heard almost yearly plans to fix the roads. Many plans have passed and STILL the roads are in the worst condition of most roads I drive on. I totally oppose the raise in gas tax and believe it would negatively effect the costs to consumers of everything that must use gas to do their business. Oregon is becoming unliveable and resembles California more each year. I think we will be leaving. The property tax added to the gas tax, added to carbon tax will make it impossible for people on a fixed income to drive. Oregon needs a total change of direction starting with the Governor.

  8. russell TRIPP says:

    Our roads are crumbling and I would support this to at least fix the worst spots.Is there a way to charge electrics a fee at license renewal? They are lighter and don’t do the damage that studded tires do, they should be charged an annual fee.

  9. hj.anony1 says:

    It is a plan. But does anyone know a good sugar daddy for our town or perhaps a Russian Oligarch?

    • Rich Kellum says:

      HJ you might try the Clintons, they are close to the Russians…$145 million close

      • hj.anony1 says:

        LOL. That’s right! I forgot that they are really the current occupiers of the Whitehouse. My mistake. Please forgive me! LOL.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          No, the Russians just gave them the money because they thought the Clintons would be back in the White House….

          • ean says:

            Good despots like good businesses know it is important to buy of all parties in a political system.

          • hj.anony1 says:

            WRONG Kellum. Snopes called that false sometime ago. I suggest being careful falling for planted (fake news) by the Russians. Then repeated breathlessly on your tv news source.

  10. Mary Brock says:

    Fred Meyer has gas pumps in Corvallis, too. I will be getting my gasoline in Corvallis.

  11. Terry says:

    No more taxes period.
    And to those that say “this is a tax I could support”.
    Don’t you realize that when they guarantee ALL funds from this tax would go for street repairs doesn’t mean this will provide an increased budget for streets. This just allows the jackasses in power to shift general funds money away from road improvements.
    Then they can blow the money now dedicated to streets elsewhere. Can you say CARA?
    No no no!


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