GUARDIAN Editorial–ACHD Fee Hike Wrong!

This heavyweight truck pays NO ACHD fees.

This lightweight pays up to $70 in ACHD fees.

Passion about a particular cause can be an admirable trait, but use of elected office to manipulate public opinion on a ballot issue demonstrates a lack of respect for voters and a questionable use of financial authority on the part of Ada County Highway District commishes.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? The commishes took a lesson directly from the “Team Dave F-35 playbook” and created a “private” political action committee (PAC) aimed at manipulating public sentiment to vote in favor of a 75% vehicle fee hike. They claim it is needed for “infrastructure improvements.”

Three of the ACHD Commishes voted July 11 to increase motor vehicle fees on passenger cars and pick-ups weighing less than 8,000 pounds while exempting all the heavyweights and commercial rigs that do damage to our highways and profit from using those roadways. They obviously had worked out an agreement to vote for the fee hike prior to the meeting because they filed the C-1 PAC organization document the same day.

Exercising their passion at the expense of justice and equality on behalf of the citizens of Ada County is ill advised and inexcusable. We have seen all sorts of “friends of…” groups formed supporting various bonds for schools, libraries, etc., but we have never seen elected officials forming such groups along with their staff directors.

The ACHD is entrusted with spending $130,000,000 in public funds annually. Much of that cash is doled out to contractors who have joined forces with the Board, “supporting” passage of a proposed 75% fee hike on locally owned light vehicles. Those contractors and developers will be the direct beneficiaries of the fee hikes they seek.

Idaho State code allows the local tax and Ada County is the only place in the state that has a “county wide” highway district qualifying to assess the unfair tax which caters to businesses and heavier vehicles. Rather than seek equality and a remedy at the legislature, the Commishes and the contractors they support will ask voters to approve the fee hike on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If approved as written, ACHD will have authority to impose local fees while exempting trucks FOREVER! The proposed fee has no expiration.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Richard Evensen
    Aug 13, 2018, 1:43 pm

    They are trying to sell this boondoggle as “infrastructure improvements.”

    It will actually end up funding ridiculous bicycle and mass transport systems. The buses they have run around with 3 or 4 people in them.

    EDITOR NOTE–Richard, we are confused. ACHD runs the VANS for commuters. the BUS system is run by Valley Ride and Valley Ride actually has authority over the van pool vehicles.

  2. The resolution only passed with a 3-2 vote with Hansen and Goldthorpe voting against. Hansen wanted public transit funding and Goldthorpe wanted a specific percentage for community programs. Kent G even tried to provide an amendment for this. It is frustrating that this PAC is saying the ACHD Commission supports the increase, when in reality this narrowly passed with a 3-2 vote. A 3-2 vote will be a hard sell to voters and this PAC was created to help put up a united front.

  3. Richard Evensen
    Aug 13, 2018, 2:59 pm

    “Many who testified favored using the fee hike money for bike lanes, safe routes to school, and public transportation.”

    We shall see.

  4. This is so typical. Always the good ole boys hunkering down in the back room. Agh. What is the name of the PAC? What nonsense!

    EDITOR NOTE–sorry for omitting the PAC. It is here:

  5. Overall ACHD does a very good job constructing and maintaining roads within Ada county. They should, they collect a crap load of money from drivers in Ada County. Note, I said Ada County. A lot of out-of-county drivers also benefit from the generosity of Ada drivers.
    That said, its time for ACHD directors and Engineers to step up and admit and fairly tax those vehicles which place the most wear on our road system. It is not our family cars or pickups. If ACHD wants to continue having public support quit blowing smoke screens and start acting and voting like good public stewards or our infrastructure. Otherwise maybe at election time we can find some that will.

  6. Richard, While many people spoke in favor of reserving a specific portion for community programs (safe routes to school, bike lanes, etc), this was passed by Arnold, Baker and Woods who strongly opposed adding a specific percentage to the ballot language.

    NOTE–An insensitive remark has been edited out of this comment.

  7. Seems to me that a greatly-increased registration fee, while exempting the biggest, heaviest vehicles is akin to having mandatory emissions inspections, while exempting diesels and old, oil-burning klunkers. What’s wrong with this picture?

    I’m another believer that ACHD does a pretty good job of maintaining our roads, and managing new/enhancement projects. As a bicyclist (who pays to register 3 motor vehicles every year), I appreciate their allocating a small percentage to bicycle infrastructure improvement. But – I will vote that they need to make do with the existing funding formula, until they figure out a better way to collect from the influx of newcomers, big rigs, and out-of-county motorists who regularly help wear out our roads.

    I hope the ballot measure is soundly defeated.

  8. I plan to vote against the vehicle registration fee increase.

    A point of clarification about vehicle registration fees going to public transportation purposes.

    Using vehicle registration fees to directly support (subsidize) public transit is illegal in Idaho, but using those same fees to build roadway infrastructure improvements that public transit benefits from is a different story.

    The current Veterans Parkway / State St intersection project is an example. Traffic signal priority for public transit is another. The “State St Corridor” improvements, read bus lanes, are another. It’s my understanding it is these types of roadway infrastructure projects that the ACHD Board was considering partially funding from the increased registration fees.

    So, Richard, those roadway infrastructure improvements will benefit, indirectly, for what passes as a mass transport system (LOL) here. As to a “mass transport system”, you have to have masses of people to have a mass transport system. I’d suggest the Valley is no where close to having masses of people here like New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC and Los Angeles for example. Now a public transportation system, that’s a different story.

    As to your comment about 3 to 4 people on buses, Valley Regional Transit reports they carry, on average, about 14 passengers per service hour in Ada County. That’s down about 3% from last year. And no, smaller buses are not the answer.

  9. This issue is being discussed in Canyon county too. It would make more cents if only trucks had their fees raised as they do the most damage. The solution since there are more car owners than truck owners is get to the polls. You all have neighbors–See that they vote. You do have a choice!

  10. IF the increase is for ‘infrastructure improvements’, why not impose a one-time fee for those people who are moving into Idaho when they initially register their vehicles. It seems like with the influx of people now moving into the state, the infrastructure is being ‘taxed’ to the limit. Why ‘penalize’ those who have been here for years just because people are moving in and causing a huge impact on existing infrastructure…..have them shoulder the burden of change since they are causing it.


  11. Dave Kangas
    Aug 14, 2018, 1:06 pm

    I don’t quite understand the law surrounding this proposal, but it needs to be and probably will be defeated.

    1- lack of public process and input. I havent’ seen one FB post or email blast notifying the public of the proposal or issue.

    2- We the general public have been hammered alreayd with numerous, endless school bonds, spending proposals(stadium, trolly, library).

    3- I guess ACHD has not been tracking current economics in ADA County. Construction contractors are busier than ever, charging more than ever and are damaging our roads more than ever. To propose a fee increase that is not balanced is a waste of time and energy.

    From what I know right now, it will be a resounding and loudly proclaimed NO!

  12. Why is achd so disconnected?
    Aug 14, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Why don’t they connect cause and effect?
    Why are they non-responsive to the needs of older neighborhoods?
    Why can they continue to get away with building awful gravely roads?
    Why do the same bodies stay affixed to the chairs of power year after year? Why aren’t their emails and phone numbers on the achd website?
    Why do their roads flood?
    Why are their alleys overgrown fire hazards full of encroachments?
    Why are their street signs too small?
    Why do they rate low on Glassdoor?
    Why can they lie to you and not have management intervene?
    Why does the director already have a fully funded retirement with no road experience?
    Why are they seeking money from only cars?
    How many political deals do they really hide?
    How can they be fired?
    Do the commissioners have office hours for the public to meet them?
    How much personal liability insurance do they provide the directors and commissioners?
    What is their religious preference?
    What is their turnover?
    Who are the skeletons in their closets?
    Who among them has degrees and studies in road engineering or project management?
    Why is the new State St.-36th St. surface already wash boardy?
    Why are many city sidewalks crumbling?
    Why would anyone ever vote for their proposals or their reelections?

    I would love to hear your questions, too.

    EDITOR NOTE–You need to file a public records request with ACHD for the answers, but be prepared to pay about $10,000 in staff time and legal review to get your answers. 🙂

  13. I am certainly glad that Disenchanted included a Q on religious affiliation. That’s pertinent..Not.

  14. There has been no information provided by ACHD showing how the last few years of increased revenue from registration fees has been spent. It is asking for blanket approval with a “trust me” attached to it.

  15. Why is achd so disconnected?
    Aug 15, 2018, 6:34 pm

    TFBoy – You can read their budgets. They aren’t going to itemize it in the Boise Weekly. In fact, if you would look at that and provide some information it would lead to. . .red ink? Let us all know what you know.

  16. western guy
    Aug 15, 2018, 7:14 pm

    I just read the ACHD budget document online. One of the most explanatory and well-crafted document as I’ve seen in 30 years of budget-building experience.

    Budget documents can tell people many things.

  17. Why is achd so disconnected? – You’re using the Boise Weekly as a high-bar of record? Cough! That’s a laugh. Just another propaganda arm to colonize Boise into the next Portland/Seattle.

    It’s ALL about the money and political shift, folks. And how to take as much of your money as they possibly can while we all sit and root; The roads are a good cause. Education is a good cause. The children are a good cause. Diversity is a good cause.

    It won’t stop until Dave Bieter is stopped. Make my words – He’s after governorship. Say goodbye to Idaho as you know it, should that ever happen.

  18. Why is achd so disconnected?
    Aug 16, 2018, 9:35 am

    Why are development impact fees declining? Development is roaring.

    Sweetheart deals? Waivers? Failure to appropriately evaluate developments impact on the area at large? Lack of leadership? Political pressure?

    This is the essence of the failure.

  19. Look what the state is about to approve
    Sep 6, 2018, 5:45 am

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