January 27th, 2011 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: City Hall, CLEAN UP, Politics

Portland Leaf Fee: Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Leaves on Portland street

Mayor Sam Adams plans to survey all Portland residents on their level of support for the city's new leaf fee as part of an effort to see whether to keep the program in the next budget cycle.

The new fee ranging from $15 to $65 on about 30,000 Portland households and businesses has so far raised less than half of the city's $800,000 goal. And many assessed property owners are still smarting over the charges.

This month, the Portland Bureau of Transportation estimated only about 37 percent of assessed property owners had paid their leaf fees as of Jan. 23. Another 35 percent had opted not to pay the fees (as the rules this year allowed). Another 28 percent of residents in Portland's 28 "leaf districts," home to about 20 percent of Portlanders, ignored the city's requests for payment.

The number of residents who've paid their bills may seem low. But the mayor says he's pleased with the results, which are better than he once imagined.

"The number of people who have responded is higher than I thought," Adams says.

The mayor won't say now whether he favors keeping the leaf fee or ditching it. Abandoning the new fee-for-service program would require rejiggering the transportation bureau's funding priorities. "At this point, I have no leanings," he says.

Commissioner Randy Leonard, for his part, says he'd like to "highlight" the program in the 2011 budget process, which kicks off next month. "I think we ought to look at it," he says. "I need to have a rational discussion about it."

Commissioner Amanda Fritz says she favors keeping the program in the spirit of "equity." Most Portlanders don't get the leaf-fee service, so those who do should pay for it, she argues.

 
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