Potential Countywide Vehicle Registration Fee for Road Maintenance
On October 1, 2013, the Board of County Commissioners tabled action on the potential countywide vehicle registration fee until June 2014. The Board wants to make sure the public is fully informed on this important issue before taking further action. The Board directed Land Use & Transportation staff to continue its public outreach and education efforts about the proposed fee. Stay tuned for additional information on this issue in the coming months.
On September 24, 2013, the Board of County Commissioners authorized staff to file an ordinance proposing an annual vehicle registration fee of $30 for most vehicles and $17 for motorcycles and mopeds.
- Read the latest edition of the Department of Land Use & Transportation's quarterly Updates Newsletter, which features the potential countywide vehicle registration fee.
A history of success
Roads are essential to the health of our economy and quality of life. They transport goods and get us to work, school, entertainment, shopping, and visits with family and friends. Washington County has a history of being proactive on transportation funding issues. The Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP) and Transportation Development Tax (TD) are two notable examples. Through these programs, taxpayers and developers have invested more than $800 million since 1986 to improve our countywide transportation system.
It is critical that we maintain that investment. If roads are allowed to deteriorate significantly, costly repair or reconstruction is needed. But how do we make sure our roads are maintained now so they will not cost more in the future?
Recent surveys indicate many Washington County residents rank road system maintenance as a high or very high transportation priority. Washington County maintains 1,300 centerline miles of roads (approximately 3,000 lane miles). You've probably seen a road in need of maintenance and wondered why it hasn't been addressed.
We strive to be efficient and effective with our road maintenance funds, but we face a double challenge: material costs are escalating rapidly while people are driving less and switching to more fuel efficient vehicles. As a result, current gas taxes are not enough to pay for all current maintenance needs.
We can't afford to fall behind
The condition of our roads is deteriorating and our list of deferred maintenance needs is currently more than $10 million and growing. Over the past 10 years, the average Pavement Condition Index (PCI) of the county road system has dropped more than 10 points. It is projected to decline another 10 points over the next decade with current funding sources.
Cost-effective preventive maintenance avoids costly future repairs. Fixing roads after they've deteriorated can cost 5 to 10 times as much as preventive maintenance. Treating roads at the right time saves taxpayers money over the long term—potentially tens of millions of dollars over the next 20 to 30 years.
What's the solution?
County and city officials are considering a countywide vehicle registration fee with funds dedicated to maintaining and improving existing roads. Implementing the fee will support timely preventive maintenance of existing roads—avoiding higher costs to repair them in the future.
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