Clackamas County is at the crossroads of an expensive problem.

The county is facing a $17 million annual shortfall for road maintenance, due to escalating costs and the loss of stable funding.

Because the cost of restoring a degraded road is 10 times more than the cost of preventive maintenance, our problem becomes bigger by the year.

Delaying maintenance will result in deteriorating roads, which will decrease the safety of our roads.

Smooth pavement, well-marked intersections, unobstructed sight lines and clear lane markings are all critical to maintaining safe roads. Clackamas County lacks the funds to continue maintenance at the level needed to maintain all our roadways.

We need to find stable local funding to protect our roads, avoid a larger future financial burden, reduce the wear and tear on cars, and protect property values.

Why not move funding from other services or programs?

Oregon law expressly prohibits using property taxes – the County’s largest source of funding – for road maintenance. Similar restrictions apply to other sources of funds the County receives. Consequently it is not possible to reallocate funds intended for other services or programs to finance road maintenance.

What can be done?

In response to the continuing need for road maintenance funds in Clackamas County, on July 12 the Board of Commissioners approved placing a 6-cents-per-gallon fuel tax measure on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The proposed fuel tax would be for seven years.  The tax would be collected countywide, and the revenue would be split with participating cities in the county – 60% would go to the county and 40% would go to the cities.

To participate, cities have been asked to pass a resolution in support of the measure and approve an intergovernmental agreement, agreeing to the distribution percentage. Each city will determine how best to spend the revenue based on its own transportation needs.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed fuel tax measure at the board’s business meeting set for 6 p.m., Thursday, July 21, in the fourth floor Public Hearing Room in the Public Services Building, 2051 Kaen Road in Oregon City.

The board has already reviewed a list of the specific maintenance and safety projects that would be accomplished with the funds generated.