A local gas tax is creeping closer to the November ballot. At a special meeting of Bend City Council on Monday, councilors discussed the results of a survey by DHM Research that found 63 percent of respondents support a 10-cent gas tax.
It's no secret that Bend's roads are in bad shape. Survey respondents confirmed this, with 61 percent describing their condition as "poor" or "very poor." They also rated concerns about road maintenance and repair a hair higher than the economy/cost of living, and substantially higher than schools and public safety. Roads also ranked highest among other transportation-related issues, with 34 percent saying it was the issue they would most like local government leaders to do something about, followed by public transportation (29 percent).
The survey floated other funding options for road improvements, and the gas tax tied with a studded tire fee for highest vote getter—29 percent identified it as their preferred funding source. And, perhaps surprisingly, respondents were more likely to support a 10 cent per gallon tax than a 5 cent one. The survey authors estimated that the larger tax would cost the average driver $4 a month.
A transportation utility fee, one of the other potential funding sources Council has discussed, was supported by just 5 percent of respondents.
Respondents also showed support for using gas tax funds to address bike and sidewalk improvements, with 44 percent saying this broader focus would make them more likely to support the tax.
But despite concerns about road conditions and clear support for a gas tax, a narrower majority (54 percent) of respondents said they believe the City already has enough money to address road conditions and just needs to spend more wisely.
In addition to the statistically valid DHM survey, the City is supporting a similar community survey created by the same company and promoted by Bend 2030. While this survey does not meet the same parameters of statistical significance, it gives more residents a chance to weigh in on the tax. That survey can be found at Bend2030.org and is open until July 12.