Ada County Considers Fee Increase to Address Infrastructure

By Anthony SanFilippo

Update (Nov. 7, 2018): Voters in Ada County, Idaho decided to vote against a vehicle registration increase by 53-47. Stand by for more updates on what this might mean to the Ada County community. Sign up for updates.

You may have seen the commercial urging voters to approve the vehicle registration fee increase ballot measure in Ada County.

As the commercial states, getting around Ada County has become a losing rat race. To correct the rat race, the ballot measure proposes to increase vehicle registration fees to fund infrastructure spending throughout Ada County, including improved streets, more turn lanes, modernized signals for better traffic flow, new bike lanes, better sidewalks and safe routes for school children.

While no one likes to approve increases in taxes or fees, this one makes sense.

Ada County is one of the fastest growing areas not just in Idaho, but the entire country. Ada County’s booming population means more cars, and when there are more cars, there will be more traffic. The roads and traffic systems in Ada County are not designed to handle this ever-growing influx of people and cars.

The revenue raised by the increase in vehicle registration fees will allow the Ada County Highway Division (ACHD) to fix the growing infrastructure-spending deficit. The measure imposes an average annual fee increase of $18. Currently, vehicle owners  pay $40 for one-or-two year old vehicles, $36 for three-to-six year old vehicles and $24 for seven year old or older vehicles

The ballot measure, seeks to raise the local fees to $70, $63 and $42 respectively.

Additionally, other vehicles will be impacted with registration fees as well.

It is estimated the additional registration fees will raise $7.5 million specifically purposed for projects targeting traffic congestion, major road improvements and the creation of sidewalk, bike lane and “Safe Routes to School” improvements.

Congestion relief projects would include new vehicle detectors and signal timing hardware to improve traffic flow, as well as new turn lanes at busy intersections. These improvements have already been added as part of a pilot program on Chinden Blvd. This new digital technology, which is used at eight intersections on Chinden Blvd. between Locust Grove and Highway 16, allows the ACHD to update the length of time at specific traffic signals in real time, reducing rush hour commutes by as much as 20 percent.

Using radar as opposed to video, the ACHD can remotely change the timing of traffic signals based on the number of cars waiting for a light to change. Most current traffic signals in Ada County currently require an on-site monitoring, an analysis of the data and then a manual correction of the timing device of the signal, which can take weeks to complete. This new technology can address a traffic flow problem in real time.

Upping the registration fee will allow for these improvements to occur sooner rather than later and allow Ada County to keep up with the record-breaking growth it is experiencing.

Some opponents to the measure feel that problems resulting from growth shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of existing residents, but rather those developers who are creating this growth.

The ACHD charges the impact fees allowed under Idaho law on all new homes, stores and commercial and industrial buildings to pay for the new roadway features needed to serve the growth. But, any roadway expansion project, by law, needs to be underwritten by local tax revenue.

In addition, an increase in registration fees will ensure that ACHD gets the most impact fees allowed by law.

More money from registration fees will ensure ACHD has the needed funding, the 20-year building plan stays on track and that development is charged the maximum allowed by law.


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