Latest News

You decide this November if your car will cost more to register in Ada County

Ada County Highway District will consider a fee increase to raise money for roadwork like improvements to the corner of State Street and Glenwood Street.
Ada County Highway District will consider a fee increase to raise money for roadwork like improvements to the corner of State Street and Glenwood Street. kjones@IdahoStatesman.com

Wider intersections. More turn lanes. Better timed signals. Safer routes to schools. New sidewalks. Bike lanes.

These are ways the Ada County Highway District says it may spend an additional $4 million to $5 million each yearfrom increased registration fees, if voters approve that increase in November.

Highway commissioners agreed last week to seek the increase. Registration fees, which the Idaho Transportation Department collects on behalf of the highway district, are expected to generate $9.6 million this fiscal year. They account for about 8 percent of the general fund, with property taxes, state gasoline taxes and impact fees on developers making up most of the rest of the $118 million budget.

On Wednesday, members of the district's governing board talked about how to explain the proposed fee increase to voters. Their ideas for spending the money reflected results of a recent survey of county residents, who named reducing congestion and public transportation as their top priorities. But the district is limited in the ways it can promote public transportation, which is outside the scope of its mission as defined by state law.

The board is scheduled tocomplete a ballot measure July 11.

If it passes, the district's annual registration fees would increase by 75 percent. For vehicles as old as two years, the fee would increase from $40 to $70. Vehicles between three and seven years old would cost $63 instead of $36, and vehicles older than seven years would cost $42 instead of $24.

These fees are on top of state registration fees.

Voters last approved a fee increase in 2008. Part of that money was used to make transportation routes to schools safer.

The story below was published June 6, 2018, under the headline “Update: ACHD wants you to raise your vehicle-registration fee. A lot."

The Ada County Highway District will ask county voters in November to increase registration fees to $70 for cars up to two years old.

If the measure passes, registration for newer cars would go up by $30 — a 75 percent increase. Owners pay additional fees to the state when they register their vehicles.

Sara Baker, president of the district's commission, said the district has until Sept. 7 to work out details of the fee increase proposal, such as the wording voters will see on their ballots, how much registration will cost for older cars and how the district will spend the money.

Commissioner Paul Woods said he'd like the measure to include a sunset clause that causes fees to revert to a lower price after a set number of years unless voters re-authorize the $70 maximum.

A fee increase would generate an additional $4 million to $5 million per year, district spokeswoman Nicole DuBois said in an email. The district's budget for this fiscal year anticipates $9.6 million from registration fees.

The district commissioned a poll recently to find out what the public thinks of increasing registration fees. The poll, which consisted of 600 random telephone interviews and 1,629 completed online surveys, found that 53 percent of respondents favored a $70 maximum registration fee if the district were to use its extra money on one of their top priorities.

Respondents who live in the western part of the county were most interested in reducing congestion, while those in the eastern part want public transportation. But Baker said state law prohibits the district from spending registration-fee money on public transportation.

The story below was published June 5, 2018, under the headline “ACHD may ask voters to raise vehicle-registration fees to boost roadwork.”

The Ada County Highway District's governing board will discuss Wednesday whether to ask voters to raise vehicle registration fees.

The discussion follows a poll the district commissioned recently to gauge county residents' appetite for increased fees as well as their opinions of how much of an increase might be acceptable and how the district should spend the extra money, said Sara Baker, president of the commission.

Baker said she hasn't seen the results of the poll.

Registration fees, which the Idaho Transportation Department collects on behalf of the highway district, are expected to generate $9.6 million for the district this fiscal year. They account for about 8 percent of the district's general fund income. Voters last approved a fee increase in 2008. Part of that money was used to make transportation routes to schools safer.

Registration fees vary based on vehicles' age. The fee is $40 for new vehicles, $36 for vehicles between three and seven years old, and $24 for vehicles older than seven years.

Commissioner Jim Hansen said the district would use extra money from increasing fees to pay for roadwork projects it otherwise couldn't complete immediately.

"How about we FIRST change how we spend money before asking for more?" Hansen wrote on Facebook. "I suggest a balanced approach to capital spending. Wouldn't it be more prudent to improve a two-lane rural roads to three lanes with space for turning, as well as safe walking and biking and less costly drainage systems, rather than expanding it (and its intersections) to five-plus lanes requiring a lot more expense for right-of-way and drainage? If we used funds to improve walking and biking to schools and businesses near the neighborhoods, wouldn't that make the area more livable at all hours not just peak?"

The commission meets at noon Wednesday in the district headquarters, 3775 N. Adams St., Garden City.

  Comments