When I hear about a proposed "tollbooth" being placed on a county road near the entrance to Cove Palisades State Park that already charges day use fees, it doesn't set well with me, even if I am a citizen living in Jefferson County who will supposedly be exempt.
If he gets his way, I will view Jefferson County Commissioner Ponsford as a troll hiding under the bridge, lurking with his hand out and demanding $1 from every car that passes by. I wonder, when I go to the Cove, will I have to flash ID to show that I live in Jefferson County in order to avoid paying a buck? I won't be happy about that and I suspect Commissioner Ponsford will generate plenty of resentment on the part of all visitors coming to the area.
Like most people during the summer months, I travel to campgrounds and other state parks in Oregon where I pay a day use fee, which is fair. I use state highways and county roads to get there, wherever that may be, and I don't see any troll with his hand out demanding that I pay more money before I can pass by and into those campgrounds and parks.
In the past fiscal year, the State of Oregon, as shared revenue, distributed approximately $875,000 to Jefferson County from tax on gasoline for roughly 20,000 vehicles registered in Jefferson County. That money is dedicated for use on roads, bridges and maintenance of Jefferson County roads. Additionally, Jefferson County just received a Federal aid package of which $694,697 by law must be allotted to the road department. Used wisely, these dollars can maintain Jefferson County roads.
The 250,000 visitors that come to Jefferson County's Cove Palisades State Park spend a great deal of money at local businesses. What most people may not be aware of is that even when they buy gas in Jefferson County, the tax on each gallon of gas purchased by these visitors does not return to the county. Is that fair? A good question. Perhaps Commissioner Ponsford should take that issue up with the State of Oregon and work to have it changed so that Jefferson County receives a larger share of the gasoline tax pie. Then he wouldn't have to become known as the troll that instituted the "tollbooth" on a county road that should be used by citizens to freely come and go, at no additional expense.
Brion K. Hanks