Residents Speak Out against Clackamas County’s Proposed Vehicle Registration Fee

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners held their first meeting last Thursday on the proposed vehicle registration fee that would go toward improving county roads and improving traffic flow with capital projects that the county otherwise would have no funding for.

The fee would be $30 per year per car, truck or other passenger vehicle, paid every two years when you register your vehicle. Barring any other increases, it would raise your biennial registration fee from $112 to $172.

While no one questioned the need for more funding to go toward roads and transportation in Clackamas County, some, like resident Jim Meyers, asked why it has to come in the form of increased taxes or fees rather than from within the county’s existing budget.

He also questioned whether the county had done enough to inform the public about this proposal, given that the meetings they held last year were attended by only an estimated 200 people.

Several said they’d prefer a gas tax, which is more tied to actual road usage than the vehicle registration fee. But, as Chair Jim Bernard points out, the county has tried that before, most recently in 2016, and it has always been voted down at the polls. Here’s Brighton resident Jerry Carlson.

The commissioners can pass the registration fee by a vote of the board, but the public can refer the matter to voters through the petition process. Several commissioners even admitted they believe the matter will ultimately end up on a ballot, but still believe the county should move forward.

That was Commissioner Ken Humberston.

This was only the first meeting and first reading of the proposed ordinance enacting the fee. A second meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at the commissioners hearing room on the fourth floor of the county public service building in Oregon City.

It is at this meeting that the board is expected to approve or denied, or direct staff to take further action.

The county has prepared a list of proposed projects that would be funded with their portion of the fee revenue should it be enacted. There are more projects on the list than could be addressed with the available funding, so if it’s passed, county leadership would have to prioritize the most-needed and high-impact items. 

Proposed projects for the Canby area include:

  • Add dual left-turn lanes on southbound Barlow Road at the intersection with Highway 99E.
  • Reconstruct intersection and install northbound left-turn lane and southbound right-turn lane at the intersection of Canby-Marquam Highway and Lone Elder Road.
  • Add paved shoulders to North Holly Street from Territorial Road to the Canby Ferry.
  • Add paved shoulders and turn lanes at major intersections on Township Road from Canby city limits to Central Point Road.

For the complete list, see here.

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