Business Owners Cite Inequities in Proposed Street User Fee

Many small business owners around the city are still up in arms over what they see are inequities in the proposed street user fee being considered by City Council.

Council members listened to three hours of public comments, and not one person was happy with how the fee was being figured.

Mayor Nelda Martinez told the crowd that city leaders dropped the street maintenance fee more than 30 years ago because of the recession, but never reinstated the fee. Some business owners claimed the fee would force them to close stores and lay off employees, and others said it was applied to businesses unfairly.

"In my business, I have very little traffic in a large area," business owner John Gordon said. "Should I be charged the same as a Circle K, or Stripes now, I guess it is, who are running thousands of people every day in and out of there store? That's inequitable."

City staff unveiled a new formula that they say applies the fee more fairly among businesses based on what they call the "trip factor index," or how much traffic each business generates. That index raises or lowers the fee based on that figure, along with a square footage measurement of each business.

You can see the trip factor index on the City Council's web page, but because of complaints from business owners, another study will be done to learn more about which businesses generate the most traffic before a final reading in two months.


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