Trucks Ride Free On ACHD Roads

After receiving several comments about the ballot language on the Ada County Highway District fee hike for auto registrations, we revisited the issue and learned some disturbing, but not surprising facts.

About 16,500 trucks weighing over 8,000 pounds get a FREE RIDE on county roads. Meanwhile owners of 279, 454 passenger car owners have to pony up fees as high as $40 per vehicle for ACHD “projects,” as a result of the ballot measure passed (unwittingly?) by voters Tuesday.

Since heavier, wider vehicles cause more damage to road surfaces and signs than passenger cars, we asked officials at ACHD for an explanation.

Turns out they had a committee meet to offer “input” on what the new law would be.

Surprise, surprise! The group was stacked full of folks who would benefit from EXEMPTING TRUCKS from being taxed. An ACHD official quietly admitted none of the 30 committee members were opposed to the proposal which doubled county auto taxes.

It is a simple fact that passenger car owners are subsidizing the roads for all those delivery trucks, dump trucks, and farm vehicles that use them to make a profit. The GUARDIAN is of the opinion ALL users would pay county taxes at the same rate. We are also hard pressed to offer much complaint because the people were allowed to vote and 68% said YES.

ACHD claims the trucks pay fees to the State of Idaho which returns a portion to the counties. Big deal! Same is true for State of Idaho passenger car fees. Only difference is the little guys have to pay BOTH state and county fees.

Folks representing Chambers of Commerce in Boise, Meridian, and Eagle, developers, Commerce and Industry Association reps, contractors, Smart Growth Developers, pro growth CCDC-Boise City officials, realtors and others rounded out the citizen’s panel.

In what had to match the B-1 bomber for stealthiness, the language was placed on the ballot–we were told without formal approval of the ACHD board. Even ACHD insiders were shocked at the success they had at the polls.

In the original post before the election, we were wrong about the old fee rates being omitted. The old maximum county fee of $20 was indeed posted at the beginning of the ballot.

Also, we were informed by the ACHD spokesman Friday that the commishes did indeed formally approve the ballot. The guy who gave us the erroneous info was on vacation at the time it was approved.

David Goldman said this in the Daily Paper October 29 and wanted to share his warning in retrospect:
“ACHD commissioners have proposed an increase in vehicle registration fees, but they apparently want it to be a surprise on Election Day. Apart from a Statesman article on July 25, there has been little other information or public discussion. After seeing the proposal for the first time on my absentee ballot I understand why it’s a surprise – it’s shamefully simplistic.

There are three critical flaws. First, it sets fixed dollar amounts over 20 years, which guarantees that it will be too steep an increase initially and surely be too little money by 2029. Second, it groups vehicles under 8,000 pounds, but 8,000-pound vehicles damage the roads more than 2,000-pound vehicles. More egregiously, there is no reference to vehicles over 8,000 pounds, which cause road damage as well. Finally, it provides no incentives for hybrid or electric vehicles; it refers to children safely walking to school but fails to encourage the reduction of pollution those same children are forced to breathe.We deserve better legislation than this. Send a message to the commissioners to be more professional, or at least competent, by voting NO.”


Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Oh what tangled webs we weave,
    When it is the Guardian we wish to deceive!

    Now is the time to name names! Just who made up this “committee”?, and what was their real purpose?

    There is no doubt the daily rag monitors this forum. If they choose not to make this a major issue, it will prove they were, at the very least, complicit in this whole mess!
    So, what do you say Mr. Popkey? Are you an actual journalist, or are you just a lackey for the elitist snobs that run this valley?

  2. Serendipity
    Nov 6, 2008, 10:57 pm

    The same old same old: business ueber alles and the citizens get screwed as usual.
    Dave is right on the mark. The condition of Idaho roads is deplorable, in some places dangerous, and the rotten conditions are only due to the fact that heavy trucks roll on our roads continuously.
    Not only that, but there are thousands of trucks pouring out filthy diesel smoke right and left, with no control on their emissions. (OH no–we only need to control auto emissions.)
    I voted No on that issue because I saw a warning about it somewhere before Tuesday. But obviously people were misled and the vote should be made null.

  3. That the measure passed is inexplicable, especially in light of the warnings.

  4. It’s painfully obvious what they did. They wrote the ballot language in a way that made it sound as good as possible, while still being truthful. They then ran a relatively low-key election, knowing that they had a second shot next year (the current fee didn’t expire until 2010). I had not heard anything about the measure until my absentee ballot showed up in the mail. I did get one color oversized card ad in the mail about 2 weeks prior to the election from an interest group of some kind. People were likely surprised in the voting booth, but went for the glowing description of the measure written by ACHD itself. As for truck damage, trucks acount for the vast majority of damage to roads. Roads are designed to handle car (yes even Hummers) with relatively little damage, but can’t be designed to withstand all the damage that trucks inflict if they are to be remotely affordable.

  5. It’s not only the ACHD with the pro-truck stand. Whenever the state talks about increasing registration or other fees, its always about cars, with no mention about the rates for trucks. Anytime you drive the interstate, the road ruts are made by dual tires, NOT cars.

  6. Do any of the Guardian’s readers know how heavy trucks that are based and drive in Idaho but headquartered out of state are taxed? I have heard that Idaho is one of the very few states that don’t even levy trip permit fees for over the road truckers.

    There are apparantly several companies that make money in Idaho from their trucking endeavors but license the trucks and trailers out of state.

    They run semis with tank trailers for milk and possibly other things. I know one outfit with truck lots in Nampa and Burley but all of the vehicles I see bear IOWA pates. Ever wonder where those ruts and washboards in our roads come from?

    EDITOR NOTE–Idaho does indeed require trip permits for interstate trucks. The issue in this post item is the county simply EXEMPTED all trucks registered in Ada County from paying the fee. For the most part we are talking delivery, farm, construction dump trucks, movers, utility trucks etc.

  7. To me, the strangest thing about this screwy ballot item was that it had only two options:
    1. Double your fees, so we can do more stuff.
    2. End the fees, so we can do less.

    So where was 3: Keep the fees at their present rate so we can keep on doing whatever it is that we’ve been doing?
    Seems that shoulda been there!

  8. No wonder everyone hates ACHD. I wonder if Bill Sali voted “NO” on this one? This ballot language reeks of bait and switch tactics. How is my grandmother going to know anything about vehicles over 8000#. She might think her small car weighs that much for all I know and get an exemption.

    I always love the “yes” means “no” ballot language they use in some elections. The “citizens” panel who supported this ballot measure should be ashamed.

  9. Tom Anderson
    Nov 7, 2008, 7:29 pm

    Lets just ban all those horrible trucks, we don’t really need food, an electrical grid, pressurized city water, a sewer system, or worthless stuff like toilet paper anyway.

  10. How about Boise becoming an independent city and telling Ada County to beat it. Pros? Cons? It would certainly allow for fewer layers of government and more transparency. Thoughts?

  11. On top of this a lot of those trucks in Boise are filling up with “off road” diesel. Off road diesel is a dyed diesel that is less refined and has a much higher sulphur content than on road diesel. It is about $0.80-$1.00 a gallon cheaper than on road diesel. Those fleet owners who play by the rules are at a competitive disadvantage to those owners who choose to illegally use off road diesel. In fact, the pressure of the monetary incentive to use dyed diesel must be even more intense in these trying times, especially when AAA Delivery is filling up with on road diesel and watches his competitor FFF Delivery fill up with off road diesel.

    A fleet owner who burns through 2,000 gallons of diesel in month would save $1,600 on the low end using dyed diesel.

    Who should be enforcing? Bureau of Weights and Measures (Dept of Ag)? Idaho State Police? DEQ?

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