In addition to the City Council meeting, which looks to have especially juicy matters in both the proposed Intergovernmental Agreement on the Salem River Crossing as well as discussion of ride-booking regulations, Cherriots and our Metropolitan Planning Organizations have meetings.
A couple of readers have mentioned that Cherriots meets on Monday the 24th in a "special meeting" for one topic only:
- Legislative Proposal for MPO Taxing Districts as Part of State Transportation Bill
In the Cherriots packet is an April 13th letter from SKATS staff to MPO committee members:
Of particular relevance to SKATS is the proposal from Senator Boquist about a new excise tax on new vehicles sold in Oregon. The funds from the excise tax would go into a State Infrastructure Fund to be used for congestion/modernization projects in the Portland MPO area and other parts of the state. A 1% excise tax raised $73 million per year. Senator Boquist also supports establishing taxing districts for all MPOs in Oregon, to fund major congestion-relief projects. The Senator's idea is that the state-designated MPO area taxing districts - with an added fuel tax and/or vehicle registration in the district - could produce revenue in order that ODOT and MPOs share in the cost of major transportation projects....On the SKATS agenda is some additional clarification:
This cost-sharing paradigm is moving forward in cooperation with the Portland Metro MPO area. The Portland MPO is willing to impose on themselves additional fuel taxes and registration fees to pay for half the cost of three major congestion projects (I-5 Rose Quarter, I-205, and Highway 217). The total cost of these three projects is about $1 billion, with Portland and the state each paying half....
In [staff] discussions with the Portland and Central Lane MPO transportation managers, they would like to have OMPOC [ie, a consensus from all Oregon MPOs] support for the MPO area taxing districts.
OMPOC (the Oregon MPO Consortium) will discuss this revenue district idea at their April 26, 2017 meeting. The Metro and Central Lane MPO Policy Boards have said they support MPO revenue districts for major projects.The two leading local candidate projects for participation in this "cost-sharing paradigm," reproduced in the Cherriots packet, involve the bridges, unsurprisingly:
Staff asks that the Policy Committee discuss their approval / disapproval / concerns about the revenue idea, so our SKATS OMPOC representatives (Cathy Clark and Robert Krebs) can share them at OMPOC.
last month's note here and the reference to the uncorrected slide.)
Also in the Cherriots packet is a bulleted list of "possible revenue options." You'll note the appearance of the bicycle excise tax concept here, as well.
It's all about MOAR HIGHWAY!!!
Cherriots may have leverage here to ask for stronger support for transit and non-auto travel.
With this MPO Taxing District concept appears also to be a substantial institutional change, with MPOs shifting from being Federal creations to being state creations. This part is obscure and not treated in any detail, so it's hard to understand. But there could be some advantages to this. (See a little bit on that here and here.)
Finally, it's not clear if the MPO Taxing District would be able to impose the new revenue streams on its own or if it would be required to put them out for a vote on a ballot.
The debate and maneuvering will be something to watch.
The Salem Area Mass Transit District Board of Directors meets Monday, April 24th, at 5:00pm, in Courthouse Square, the Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court St NE.