The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance at its Thursday meeting setting an annual, county-wide $30 vehicle registration fee.

Cars waiting in traffic jam

Cars waiting in traffic jam

PREDRAG SEPELJ/Fotolia

The new fee will require passenger vehicle drivers to pay $30 per year and motorcyclists to pay $15 per year.

The fees will be wrapped into the state registration fees Oregonians pay every other year.

Mike Bezner is the assistant director for transportation with Clackamas County. He says the fees will add up to an estimated $11 million per year.

“The county gets 60 percent and the cities get 40 percent that will be split based on their population,” Bezner said. 

“What this does for the county is it gives us a funding source that is local. In the Portland area, between Washington County and Multnomah County and Clackamas County, we were the only one without our own local funding source for roads.”

The money will fund projects that the county hasn’t been able to get to in the past due to financial restrictions. One of those focuses will be on local, neighborhood roads. 

“We’re going to put some money into fixing our local roads. They’re less traveled and because they’re less traveled, when you don’t have enough money to take care of every road, you tend to concentrate on the ones that have the most traffic to get the most bang for your buck,” Bezner said. “So, we haven’t been able to really do a great job on our local roads because we haven’t had the resources.”

Bezner said the county will also be putting the fee money toward safety improvements. 

“We’re going to put an extra $500,000 a year toward safety improvements and safety projects,” he said. 

The county will also be putting money toward “capital improvements,” Bezner said. These are improvements that will help prevent traffic congestion. 

“These are mostly projects that will add turn lanes and intersections and things like that,” Bezner said. 

The $30 figure was decided on after discussions with business owners and residents, Bezner said. 

“We did a lot of outreach and tried to find a number that was enough to actually try and do something with,” he said, “but not so much that it would really feel uncomfortable for people. So, the consensus just over time naturally arrived at $30.”

Clackamas County’s fee is the same amount that Washington County residents pay. Multnomah County residents also pay a vehicle registration fee, but it’s $19 per year. 

Bezner said the fees will help with the sheer amount of roads in Clackamas County, which span about 1,400 miles, as compared to Multnomah County’s 274 miles of roads.