County Commissioners will refer vehicle registration fee for road maintenance to county voters in November

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sponsored by: Department of Land Use and Transportation, Administrative Services/Office of the Director Division

Following a public hearing today, the Board of County Commissioners decided to refer a proposed countywide vehicle registration fee (VRF) to the voters in November. State law allows counties to adopt a fee of up to $43 per year. Washington County is considering a $30 per year fee on most vehicles owned by residents and businesses. A $17 per year fee would apply to motorcycles/mopeds. Government, school, farm, antique, special interest and recreational vehicles, in addition to vehicles owned by disabled veterans would be exempt from the fee under state law.

“Roads are critical to Washington County’s overall economy and the excellent quality of life we enjoy here,” said Andrew Singelakis, Director of Land Use & Transportation. “Maintaining our roads in good and safe condition has become increasingly difficult. Traditional funding sources, primarily the gas tax, are not keeping up with road maintenance needs. Getting ahead of this problem will help keep future costs down.”

The VRF is the preferred funding option because it is user-based, practical to administer, and funds are stable over time. All funds would stay in Washington County and be added to what is collected from the gas tax and a weight-mile tax on heavy vehicles to cover the county’s road maintenance backlog, plus county road maintenance needs for the next 15 to 20 years. 

If approved by the voters, 60 percent of the funds would be allocated to the county for roads it maintains and 40 percent to cities for use on roads they maintain. The VRF ordinance will also be amended to provide greater clarity on how the funds will be used if the voters approve the fee. The county would commit its portion of the funds to road maintenance. Cities would have the flexibility to utilize their portion of the funds on road maintenance and other road needs, subject to existing limitations in state law.

More information, including the county staff presentation to the Board of Commissioners, is available at

Washington County is committed to planning, building and maintaining a great transportation system, ensuring the safety of all roadway users, and to operating the county roadway system in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner.

Media Contact:

Stephen Roberts, Communications Coordinator
(503) 846-4963