Andrew Theen of The Oregonian writes about transportation utility fees, asking: Portland street fee: Is the obscure formula that determines what you pay ‘imperfect,’ or plain unfair?
I defend them:
Despite the criticism thrown at the street fee plan, David Levinson, a professor of transportation at the University of Minnesota, said many transit observers nationally view street fees as progressive and innovative.
Many cities use property tax revenues or a sales tax to raise money for roads, Levinson said, and the latter is particularly regressive. A street fee, Levinson said, is “at least nominally proportional” to use.
Further, Levinson’s research has found that many cities customize their street fees, adding exemptions for residents who don’t own cars, or charging heavier vehicles for causing more wear and tear.
More precise measurements exist to track how much individual drivers use the roads – think GPS – but transportation experts note such tools would be a tough sell politically due to privacy concerns.
Kelly Clifton and Brian Taylor are also cited. The key I think is the alternative. Even ITE Trip Generation rates, as bad as they are, are better than property taxes as a basis for local transportation funding. They can of course be better.