Thursday, January 31, 2008

ODOT's Road Users the Task Force (RUFTF) final report for GPS gas tax collection system


2001, a task force was established through HB 3946 and passed by the 2001 Oregon Legislative Assembly in order to find new methods to "ensure a flow of revenue sufficient to annually maintain, preserve and improve Oregon State, County and city highways and roads system."

The "system" would require placing a GPS recording unit within your vehicle in order to collect a variable tax which would depend on the location, time of day, and the amount of congestion of the road being traveled.

The system would collect the tax by interfacing with the GPS system with the gas pumps.

In its 12 month feasibility study, 285 volunteers with 299 motorists and two service stations in Portland were outfitted with the GPS system and interfaces.

The task force findings were that the concept is viable and that 91% of the progress participants said that they would agree to continue paying the mileage fee in lieu of the gas tax if the program was extended statewide.

The study also showed that the mileage fee could be phased in gradually alongside the gas tax allowing non-equipped vehicles to continue paying the gas tax. Retrofitting the vehicles however at this point appears to be expensive and difficult.

The study also showed that different pricing zones could be established electronically and the assigned fees could be charged for driving in each zone.
this proves the mileage fee concept could support not only congestion pricing but also assignment in the collection of local revenues and other "zone oriented" features. Furthermore, the area of pricing strategy applied in the pilot program produced a 22% decline in driving during peak periods."

ODOT developed the system with specific engineering requirements to maintain privacy.

The next step is for the Oregon Mileage Fee Concept will require additional development and testing in order to prepare for full implementation. This will require ODOT working with technology firms and automotive manufacturers for implementation within the next 10 years.
I particularly like the point of "22% decline in driving during peak periods" due to pricing strategy.

This is another example of how they are trying to get us out of our cars and into public transit.

Let's take a quick look at these two systems and how they compare for 1 gallon of gasoline.

The current system of pre-paying the tax at the pump means that you would pay for
$.24 plus federal and city fees {} no matter where or when you drive.

Under the proposed GPS system, the amount of tax that would be paid for that 1 gallon of fuel would vary depending on the day, time, and location traveled and would be paid at the time of the next fill up. Total cost, unknown.

In short, under the current system, if I wish to buy $10 worth of fuel, I could calculate easily how much do I would get versus the proposed GPS system.

Those are just a few of the reasons why I personally feel the GPS system is a bad idea.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"We said we would sunset it when we solve the problem. While we haven't solved the problem yet"


By the end of this week, another two cents would have been dropped off the price of gas at the pump's as part of the Eugene's gas tax would have been phased out, however, officials say that the street repair fund can't afford that 40% hit as the city Council has decided to [not surprisingly] keep the local five cents per gallon fuel tax.
"We said we would sunset it when we solved the problem. Well we haven't solved the problem yet," says Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy.

Mayor Piercy continued by saying that the best solution will come from the state.

Based on the history of the Eugene city Council, the fact that they decided to keep the five cents a gallon does not come to a surprise to some Lane County citizens.
"The city is going to lose; we're going to vote it down and they're going to say, well, we're still going to do it and that's exactly what they did. I rest my case,"says service station employee Odis Sander.

Paperwork is expected to be filed this week to collect at least 5500 signatures to place an appeal on the ballot. If the measure fails, the tax will stay at five cents per gallon until at least 2011.

just like Sander, this move by the city Council does not surprise me at all. In fact, I would have been surprised if they didn't try something.

As mayor's Kitty Piercy commented, "... we haven't solved the problem yet."

I can agree with her on that statement however probably not in the same context.

The city has been desperately and obviously at any means possible looking for ways to raise money for quite some time now, ranging from increase in the gas tax to a proposal to charging an additional tax for your driveway
Reference the following links as an example

Additionally, if the mayor really believes that the state is going to come to our rescue, in my opinion... she will have a long wait.

One question I do have however regarding the roads, is why now?

They [the city] has left the roads deteriorate for so long, why are they so desperately worried about it now?

Could it be because the city is worried about giving a bad first impression to potential businesses that will be visiting our fair city when they attend the 2008 Summer Olympics trials?

Naw... they care too much about our community to be concerned just about that...NOT!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Criminal Justice report card not much of an improvement over 2006

Lane Council of governments (LCOG), recently posted on their website from the public safety coordinating Council (PSCC), their 2008 report card on the criminal justice system in Lane County.

At a glance, the report includes crime and safety, resources and capacity, and patient and effective use resources, crime and safety, etc..

The report includes a comparison between 2006 and 2008.

It's an interesting read.

The report can be viewed at the following links.
criminal justice system report card Databook

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Does the Fed's rate cut today signify that they are admitting that we are in a recession?

the Washington Times

The Federal Reserve this morning in a move to boost the economy cut the key interest rate by three quarters of a percentage point which caused a massive selloff in early trading.

The effort however failed to reassure the global stock markets which plunged on fears that trouble in the US economy could translate into a weaker economic activity worldwide.
"Time is of the essence and the president stands ready to work on a bipartisan basis to enact economic growth legislation as soon as possible," said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in remarks to the US Chamber of Commerce... I continue to have confidence in the underlying strength of the global economy.

Paulson did not mention in the prepared remarks the steep plunge in the global markets on Monday which included declines in many markets that were the largest since 9/11.
in my opinion, I think that we are in a recession already and that the raising of the interest rates to "try to stem off inflation" was a mistake.

In a global economy, the old-school rules that Greenspan relied on do not apply simply because thanks to technology, things change at a faster pace than they did 10 years ago.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oregon DMV will now electronically verify the Social Security number for drivers license


The Oregon transportation commission adopted new rules regulating the issuance of drivers license that will go into effect within the next couple months.

Applicants who apply for a driver's license will now have to show proof of residence in addition to a Social Security number.

Oregonians who do not have a Social Security number may still apply for driving privileges or an identification card however, they must sign a statement that they have never been issued a Social Security number and have at least one document listed in the DMV approved list of identification.

These new rules have raised concern within the this been a community.

I think that last line is very interesting. Every time we try to strengthen the laws or to more accurately put it, patch together the laws that are on the books which are not enforced, illegitimate citizens are usually among the first to to raise their voices in opposition.

In my opinion, this has the same effect as a burglar complaining that their victim just made it harder to break into their home.

Besides the fact that everybody is supposed to be under the same laws, illegal aliens would have nothing to complain about if they would have followed the rules in the first place by coming into this country through the front door and therefore none of these issues would actually be necessary.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Carbon tax or "cap and trade"

Portland Tribune-

A new phrase which is starting to pop up more and more often, is the "carbon tax" in which you pay a tax for the carbon dioxide that you generate in order to stem off global warming.

Some states like California and Oregon have tried to convince the EPA to allow the states to create their own auto emissions requirements for car makers. This in my opinion would raise the price per car significantly. Fortunately for us and to Kulongoski's dismay, the EPA ruled that states are not allowed to have their own rules.

"Cap and trade" would be designed to keep emissions of certain pollutants below a set level by placing a mandate that would put a limit on industrial greenhouse gases by equating them with credits that can be traded on the open market.

"This thing has the potential to reach out and touch everyone in Oregon in one way or another,” said state Rep. Chuck Burley, R-Bend, who attended the stakeholder meeting."

The program will be presented to the Oregon Legislature in the 2009 session which starts next January. If the Legislature approves the program, the earliest it could be launched would be 2010.

here's one thing I could see coming out of all this... in addition to renewing your vehicle registration, they could add a carbon tax based on the output of carbons from your vehicle. E.g. the cleaner or more efficient that your vehicle is, the less your registration would be.

And like with all taxes, who would receive the money?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

we don't have enough officers to go around

Robin's Commentary-

How many times have we heard that from the city of Eugene and Springfield?

Too many times!

"We need to raise taxes because we do not have enough money for more officers."

Well what I saw today is one of my pet peeves about that argument... and I'm referring to River Road and Beltline approximately 2 p.m. where I saw at least 4 motorcycle officers patrolling that intersection.

Two of them had already had people pulled over on the eastbound ramps of the Beltline.
Another was sitting on the sidewalk at the intersection of River Road and Belt Line, and the fourth was just making the loop back to River Road from the freeway.

Yes I know the argument... They are part of the traffic team and except during an emergency they are not supposed to do the job of a patrol officer.

Who cares!

They are still uniformed police officers who I feel whose time could be better spent performing other police duties versus ganging up on motorists.

The district attorney himself has said on the radio how bad Eugene is as far as crime.

Well as I've said many times before, it's all about perception. If you want more taxes out of me, then it had at least better LOOK like you're using the money wisely.

Local and federal gas tax increase proposed

Yahoo -AP

As the battle continues locally over the gas tax {KVAL}in Eugene with the city Council "considering allowing" the gas tax to be rolled back by two cents in February as planned versus keeping the current level of five cents a gallon. The city Council will vote on the issue at the end of the month. It is estimated that the two cent increase will generate approximately $4.1 million for street maintenance.

Washington of course feeling the pain of the high cost of street maintenance believes that the federal gasoline tax should be raised by $.40 per gallon over the next five years in order to fix aging bridges and roads and reduce traffic deaths.

The proposed increase would raise gas taxes from the current 18.4 cents per gallon by five cents to eight cents annually for the next five years and then indexed to inflation afterwards.

The Bush administration commented that raising taxes won't cut congestion. no kidding

The recommendation was based on a two-year study by a 12 member commission with the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.

Other recommendations by the commission are...
... cut traffic fatalities in half over the next 17 years

... ease traffic congestion by expanding state and local public transit systems and highway capacity

... protect the environment by smoothing traffic flow, carpooling, public transit, etc.

one question I would have to ask, is why is the big push for better streets now in Eugene?

It would not be because of the 2008 Summer Olympics trials and the perception of our town to the world would it?