Ballot Measure 34-221: Proposed Countywide Vehicle Registration Fee for Road Maintenance

Roadwise graphic


Latest News:

  • Voters rejected Measure 34-221 at the November 4, 2014 general election. Rising road maintenance needs are projected absent a local funding solution. Read our media release.

  • On July 1, 2014, the Board of County Commissioners approved A-Engrossed Ordinance No. 778, referring the proposed $30 per year ($17 for motorcycles) vehicle registration fee to the voters at the November 4, 2014 general election. The proposed fee is Ballot Measure 34-221. The ordinance also clarifies that the county's share of revenue from the fee could only be used for county road maintenance and operation. City revenue may be used only for maintenance and road purposes as outlined in state law. If approved by the voters, the fee would take effect for vehicles obtaining initial registration or renewing registrations on or after January 1, 2016.

  • Following a public hearing on June 17, the Board of County Commissioners decided to refer the proposed $30 per year ($17 for motorcycles) vehicle registration fee to county voters in November 2014. The ordinance will also be amended to clarify how funds from the fee can and cannot be used. Related Media Release

  • On June 10, 2014, Land Use & Transportation Director Andrew Singelakis and DHM Research presented the results of a recent public opinion survey of Washington County residents on transportation funding issues and the proposed countywide vehicle registration fee at the Board of County Commissioners' work session. Key survey findings indicate residents understand the importance of keeping our roads maintained but are evenly split on support for the proposed fee. Related Media Release


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 (TDT) 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?


Chip SealThe Challenge 

Recent surveys indicate a majority of 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.




Bad Road

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 $10.5 million and growing. Over the past 10 years, the average pavement condition rating of the county road system has dropped more than 10 points (on a scale of 0-100). 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. These local funds will only be used for roads.


VRF Map Slide 2013    VRF Map 2032
Map on left shows today's pavement conditions. The map on the right shows projected conditions in 20 years without added funding. Note the increase in red, purple and black - more roads in distress. (Click image to open pdf of map)

VRF Maintenance Costs

What's the solution?

County and city officials have proposed 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.

As indicated on the chart to the right (courtesy of ODOT), preventative maintenance is cost effective. $1 spent today on preventative maintenance can save $5-$10 or even more in future repair or reconstruction costs. In addition, most of the money would go back into the local economy as private contractors perform much of our maintenance work.

Washington County voters have the opportunity to help decide this important issue at the November 4, 2014 election-Ballot Measure 34-221.


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