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Lake County Hay & Forage talks road mileage tax with Commissioner

Lake County Hay & Forage Association members invited Lake County Commissioner Dan Shoun to their October meeting in Silver Lake to discuss a variety of topics.

The group prepared a variety of questions for the commissioner, said Pres. Leon Baker, including an inquiry on the weight mile tax for commercial trucks operating on county roads.

Baker said that the state serves as the tax collector, which are then transferred into Oregon Department of Transportation’s coffers and then apportioned to areas of the state depending on population numbers.

“We felt that we seem to be getting the short end of the stick,” Baker said, referring to Lake County’s vast geographical area but small population numbers.

Baker noted that commercial trucks are a vital lifelong for the hay industry of North Lake County.  The industry relies on these trucks for transportation of product into the marketplace at large, he said.

Baker said the percentage of funds received is disproportionate to other counties.

“That’s our feeling, as citizens here in the county…,” Baker said, noting that Lake County deserves more of a fair share of the tax dollars paid into this program.

Commissioner Shoun provided the group with ODOT details of the agency’s revenues and how they are generated.  In the 2011/13 biennium, ODOT is slated to collect $4.986 billion, with about 20 percent of the total coming from the federal government, according to ODOT statistics.

The weight-mileage tax is an ODOT requirement for motor carriers operating vehicles with a gross weight of over 26,000 pounds to report and pay highway-use taxes, according to the ODOT web site.

The statewide revenue from the weight mile tax totaled $611 million for the current biennium, while the gas tax represented $1,106,000,000 of revenue.

The gas tax applies to vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds, while those carriers paying the weight mile tax are exempt from the gas tax.

Other revenue comes in from car registration and driver’s license fees ($676 million).

In light of Lake County’s vast size and more than 720 miles of roads therein, Shoun agreed that there seems to be an inequity on fund distribution.

Lake County receives about $700,000 from the state from gas tax and vehicle registration fees annually, whereas Klamath County receives, comparatively, between $5 and $7 million.

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