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Josh WheelerAssistant City EngineerCity of Oregon City13895 Fir StreetOregon City, OR 97045Phone: 971-204-4634Email Josh Wheeler
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The content of these frequently asked questions was prepared in 2008 when the fee was implemented. Although some of the details are dated (i.e., rates, miles, etc.), the general contents are still applicable.
A Pavement Maintenance Fee (sometimes known as a Transportation Utility Fee, Street Maintenance Fee, Road User Fee, or Street Utility Fee) is a monthly fee collected from residences and businesses based on their use of the transportation system within the city limits of Oregon City. The fee is based on the number of trips a particular land use generates and is collected through the City's regular utility bill. It is designated for use in the maintenance and repair of the City's transportation system. Users of the road system share the costs of the corrective and preventive maintenance needed to keep the street system operating at an adequate level.
The fee is a charge for usage, like your monthly sewer charge. It provides a stable source of revenue to pay for street maintenance allowing for safe and efficient movement of people, goods, and services. The street system is a public investment that deserves protection and cost-effective regular maintenance.
In the past, the primary funding source for maintaining the City's street system was the State Gas Tax. The shared revenues received from the State Highway Fund are budgeted by the City through the Street Fund. The Street Fund is used for operations and maintenance within the public right-of-way, including:
The gas tax per gallon has not been increased since 1993 and an increase does not appear likely in the foreseeable future. Fuel efficiency in motor vehicles has led to less fuel consumption for the same miles driven (which is a good thing). Even though fuel costs have increased, gas tax receipts have not because we are taxed per gallon of gas (not per dollar). The amount available from gas tax revenues for pavement overlay and reconstruction continues to decrease while the wear and tear on our roads does not. It is important to note that over the last 9 years, since 1999, our road miles have increased about from 99 miles to 125 miles (about 26%), and our population has increased from 23,415 to 30,060 (about 28%). The shrinking dollars and a larger city have resulted in a growing backlog of paving needs. The City can no longer rely solely on the State Highway Fund for enough funding to maintain city streets. The City must come up with its own revenue source to meet our local needs. The gas tax must be supplemented to complete pavement overlays, pavement treatments, and reconstruction work that are necessary to keep our street system functioning satisfactorily.
In 2007, the Transportation Funding Study Citizens Committee recommended the implementation of a Pavement Maintenance Utility Fee as the preferred alternative for a supplemental funding source to help manage the City's street infrastructure investment.
Of Oregon City's 125 miles of streets, 12% are arterials (such as South End Road or Molalla Avenue), about 13% are collector streets (such as Clairmont Road or Glen Oak Road), and 75% are local or neighborhood streets. The reconstruction value is currently valued at $115 million.
Through timely maintenance of streets, cities are better able to provide safe roads on which people may travel. Studies have shown that pavement condition worsens at an increasing rate as the pavement gets older. Restoration of pavement near the end of its service life will typically cost 4 to 5 times more than preventive maintenance performed in a timely manner.
Because City residents and business owners are paying the fee, revenue will only be invested in streets under the City's jurisdiction. The dollars are used for rehabilitation and maintenance of City streets. This includes slurry seals, pavement overlays, reconstruction, and roadside work (rockfall protection, guardrail, etc.).
Revenues are not used to construct new infrastructure to expand the transportation system or enhancements not directly related to improving or maintaining the condition of existing City streets.
Customers are assigned one of two main categories, residential and non-residential. Residential customers are charged for maintaining local streets. Non-residential customers are charged for maintaining arterials. Maintenance of collector streets is equally shared.
In addition, the fee is based on how many trips are considered the average for the property using data developed by the Institute of Traffic Engineers.
Single-family residential properties can expect to pay $4.50 per month the first year (2008/2009). The fee increases by $1.50 per month for each of the next 3 years with a $2.22 per month increase the 5th year ($0.22 is due to a 2% annual inflation increase allowed in accordance with Oregon City Municipal Code 13.30.050).
Multi-family residential units can expect to pay about 70% of the single-family fee. Non-residential bills depend upon the type and size of the development. 5 business groups were established based on similar trip rates per square feet of gross floor area (GFA). In the first year, business charges range from $0.154 to $7.70 per square feet of GFA, depending on the type of use and trip generation. This range would gradually increase to $0.384 to $19.20 per square foot of GFA over the following 4 years.
Unit rates shall be adjusted annually to account for inflation in an amount of no more than 3%.
The ITE "Trip Generation" report provides guidelines for traffic engineers and planners to understand how proposed land uses might add traffic to a local street system. The report presents results of surveys taken at existing land developments, and categorizes the results by type, time of day, how it compares to the size of the use. Single-family residential developments are among the most surveyed category of uses in the entire volume. Over 400 studies have been conducted at neighborhoods around the country.
On average, 1 new housing unit will generate about 9 to 10 one-way vehicle trips each weekday. Some houses have less, other have more; but for a larger neighborhood with a range of family sizes, income levels, number of licensed drivers and registered cars, the average is a good indicator of overall trip intensity. What does 10 one-way vehicle trips look like? For an average family, it could include some combination of the following:
This fee, like that of other cities with similar road fees, allows businesses to request a re-examination of their fee. Residential fees must be accepted as the ITE average because while they may be lower on some days, they may be higher on other days.
The residential customers who can show they meet Oregon's low-income guidelines would be eligible for a reduced fee.
The City Commission will re-evaluate the PMUF program if other agencies adopt fees that can be used for maintaining the City's street system.
Many other cities are experiencing exactly what Oregon City faces: inadequate funding for transportation system maintenance. The old funding tools, state shared revenues from the Highway Fund (primarily the State gas tax) have not increased. Needs in most communities in Oregon have grown while funding has fallen behind. The following cities all have a Transportation Utility Maintenance Fee:
Other cities actively pursuing a fee include Hillsboro, Eugene, and Silverton. Clatskanie and Dufur have street utility fees that are included in their fee schedule.