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Newport voters to weigh in on year round, higher gas tax

City council members in Newport are considering whether to create a stipend for council member. File photo of Newport's City Hall.
Chris Lehman
Newport leaders say they need more resources to keep up with increasing road maintenance costs.

Leaders in Newport say they don't have the resources to repair the city’s aging roads. They’ve asked voters to weigh in on a higher, year-round gas tax.

For decades, Newport drivers have paid 1 cent a gallon at the pump in the winter and spring and 3 cents in the summer and fall. In May, voters will be asked if they’re willing to pay 5 cents-a-gallon year round.

In an interview with KLCC, Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel said more fuel efficient cars, an increase in visitors year round, and higher construction costs have stretched the city’s street budget to its limits.

“It's not the total answer, but it's a significant step to help us (avoid) falling farther behind on road resurfacing and reconstruction in Newport,” he said.

He said more local revenue will also put the city in a better position to win federal funding for projects, which often requires a local match.

The city anticipates the tax increase bring in about half million dollars in revenue to the city if it passes. When city council members unanimously voted to put it on the ballot in February, most expressed support for the measure, and concern for how the city might fund roads without it.

Voters have weighed in on a Newport gas tax once before, voting it down in 2021.

More than 30 local governments in Oregon, including Eugene, Springfield and Coburg, tax fuel. Newport is one of just two cities that has a higher rate during the tourism season, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Voters will be able to weigh in during the May 21 primary.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.
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