Portland Mayor Charlie Hales’ idea to send several street funding options to voters in May could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to administer, according to the city’s elections officer.

On Wednesday, Hales announced that the City Council would send a menu of street funding plans to voters in May to determine the most popular method of collecting $22 million a year from residents.

The options could include a local gas tax, progressive income tax, flat street fee, local-option levy or other measure.

Read more: Full details on the background of the street fund discussion and the latest twist

An advisory vote is nonbinding, meaning the City Council could ultimately select its own preference, rather than pursue the public’s preferred choice.

The advisory vote is only for the residential half of the $44 million street fund. The City Council is expected to vote on the nonresidential half of the plan, business, nonprofit, government agencies’ share, later this month. But the business fee wouldn’t take effect until after the city approves the residential fee.

Deborah Scroggin, Portland’s elections officer, said because 2015 is an off-year election, Portland’s share of the election bill could be incredibly variable. She said while it’s too soon to give a precise number, based on previous off-year elections, Portland could owe anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000.

The price is determined by the number of measures included on the ballot and in the Voters’ Pamphlet. There will probably be statements in favor and against for each option, and that takes up space in the pamphlet.

Scroggin noted that Portland’s share of the cost would be higher since other large public entities aren’t expected to send measures to the ballot.

The deadline for the City Council to send the street fee proposals and specific ballot language to the auditor’s office is Jan. 22, according to Scroggin.

Election Day would be May 19.

— Andrew Theen




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