Washington County will start vehicle registration fee
Owners of Washington County cars and trucks will pay a new countywide vehicle registration fee, proceeds from which will go back to the county and cities for road and bridge work.
The new fee takes effect July 1.
The new fee is $30 annually — $60 every two years — and will be collected every other year when vehicle owners renew their state registration. Owners cannot pay in advance to beat the July 1 deadline; payments are tied to the date of registration renewal.
For motorcycles and mopeds, the new fee is $17 annually — $34 every two years.
According to figures compiled by the state Driver and Motor Vehicle (DMV) Services Division, Washington County had 546,673 registered vehicles at the end of 2017. The vast majority (475,712) were passenger vehicles.
The new county fee is in addition to higher state registration fees that took effect on Jan. 1, when the annual fee rose from $43 to $56, payable every other year. So the state's two-year amount rose from $86 to $112.
Under Oregon law, all the proceeds from vehicle registration fees — once DMV administrative costs are deducted — are earmarked for road and bridge work.
County commissioners voted on Sept. 20, 2016, to impose a new annual fee of $30 to raise money for local road and bridge work. It was identical to a fee that voters rejected in November 2014.
They did so unanimously under a state law that empowered Oregon's most populous counties — without a popular vote — to impose a local fee up to the state maximum, which was then $43 annually. Several groups urged the county board to approve the maximum, but that proposal drew support from only one commissioner, Greg Malinowski, who joined the others to approve a $30 fee.
Delay to mid-2018
The Washington County board delayed the effective date of its fee to mid-2018 and attached a condition: It would take effect only if action by the 2017 Legislature failed to generate at least $8.1 million for county road projects.
The final 2017 package will enable the county to receive $7.5 million more annually — $600,000 short of the county's target — as its share of higher state fuel taxes and vehicle fees.
When the county board adopted the fee back in 2016, officials said they needed to replace 54 culverts and 81 deficient bridges — and more money to keep the road system at a Pavement Condition Index of 70 or better. (The best condition is rated at 100; the worst, zero.)
"If the (state) Legislature fails to act, then we have to do what our cities and the county have a history of doing so well," said Jerry Willey, then Hillsboro mayor and now a county commissioner-elect. "And that's having a plan that will allow us to meet our local transportation needs as best we can for our county and our communities."
Washington County's new fee will generate an estimated $8 million for the county itself. But under state law, 40 percent of total proceeds must be shared with cities. So cities will split the remaining $5.4 million, based on population.
Oregon's only other county with a local vehicle registration fee is Multnomah County, where the board imposed a $19 annual fee in 2009 — $38 every two years — to help pay for a new Sellwood Bridge. The bridge opened to traffic in February 2016. Clackamas County commissioners imposed a $5 fee for the same purpose, but opponents petitioned to refer it to a countywide election, and voters defeated it in 2011.
In a related development, Washington County's transportation development tax — which applies to all new building projects, including those in cities — will go up by 2.94 percent on July 1. Proceeds from this tax go to road projects that expand traffic capacity. Developers pay it, but the cost is usually passed along.
For a new single-family home, the tax will go from $8,458 to $8,706. The tax is set by the amount of traffic that a project is expected to generate. Commercial and industrial projects also are subject to this tax.
The current transportation development tax was approved by voters in 2008, and took effect in mid-2009. It replaced a traffic impact tax that had been in effect since 1990.
Cities share proceeds
Washington County cities will split $5.4 million in proceeds from a new countywide vehicle registration fee that takes effect July 1.
According to the county Land Use and Transportation Department, the allocation by city population is:
• Hillsboro, $1.6 million.
• Beaverton, $1.5 million.
• Tigard, $800,000.
• Tualatin, $390,000.
• Forest Grove, $380,000.
• Sherwood, $310,000.
• Cornelius, $190,000.
• King City, $60,000.
• Wilsonville, $40,000.
• Banks, Durham, North Plains and Portland, $30,000 each.
• Gaston, $10,000.
The shares for Wilsonville and Portland are proportional to their populations within Washington County.
— Peter Wong