PORTLAND-- In November, Washington County voters will decide if they want to pay an extra $30 vehicle registration fee each year to help with street maintenance.
Washington County commissioners had thought of simply implementing the fee, but after a nearly three hour-long hearing Tuesday, they chose to let voters decide.
With a $10.5 million budget shortfall, a county spokesperson said there isn't enough revenue coming in from gas and utility taxes to pay for road maintenance.
Commissioners said Tuesday that there's been a population boom in Washington County. Despite the growth, gas tax money has declined as more people drive fuel-efficient cars and use mass transit. All the while, the costs for road construction are going up.
The ballot measure will ask for $30 per year, per car under 26,000 pounds. Or $17 per year per motorcycle or moped.
The new fee would be paid when someone goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew or register a car or motorcycle.
That means a two car household would pay an extra $120 on top of the registration fee for a two year renewal. In a recent poll, opinions were nearly split down the middle.
Dwight Moret of Hillsboro brought his utility bill to the commissioner's hearing. He showed them how part of his bill went to a transportation tax and wanted to know why the county needed more.
Where's the money going and why don't I see the results? Moret asked. The roads should be paved in gold with all the money they're getting from me and I don't see it.
John Malnerich owns a rock quarry in Cornelius. He said his drivers see damaged bridges and roads all over the county. Malnerich supports the fee proposal and even asked commissioners to bump it up to the highest amount allowed in Oregon, $43 per year.
We're all for it, said Malnerich. We have to do something for our kids. We don't do something now, it'll take millions and millions of dollars to bring it up to standard.
Multnomah County is currently the only one in Oregon that has an extra vehicle registration fee. It's $19 per year fee goes to pay for construction of the new Sellwood Bridge.