Well, this OReGo program could be a money maker -- for me, if not for the state. And by "money" I mean a few pennies or fractions of pennies.
My truck is enrolled in Oregon's mileage-tax program, the first of its kind in the nation. The program allows up to 5,000 volunteers to pay a road tax of 1.5 cents per mile they drive instead of the state gas tax of 30 cents a gallon.
This morning I got my first report in my online OReGO account, which keeps track of how much mileage tax I owe and how much gas tax the state will refund to me because I've already paid it at the pump.
The account shows that on July 14 the truck traveled 45.4 miles -- funny how fast a trip to KGAL in Lebanon and a few errands add up -- which consumed 2.47 gallons of fuel. The mileage total means that I owe the state $0.681 in road tax. But I also paid $0.741 in gas tax. So based on Tuesday's driving, my account is 6 cents to the good.
That is not, obviously, what the state is shooting for with this program. Proponents of substituting a mileage fee for the fuels tax hope that in the long run it will allow road revenue not to drop but to increase, keeping pace with the use of the road system and the rising expense of keeping it up.
This also means that if and when the new system has proved its worth, it will have to become mandatory in order to work. If it's not required of all vehicles, owners will sign up only those that get, shall we say, less than spectacular gas mileage, just like my good old truck. (hh)