County okays restoration fee hike for road rallies

The Hood River County Board of Commissioners is allowing motorsport events to continue being held on county roads but at a significantly higher cost.

Commissioners voted unanimously during their Monday meeting last week to approve a recommendation from the county’s forestry and public works departments to increase road restoration fees charged to event organizers from $400 per mile to $1,700 per mile.

The fee increase was proposed to offset damage done to unpaved county roads where road rallies have been held the past 10 years.

County departments originally recommended charging $2-$6 per lineal foot of track in restoration fees — significantly higher than the previous rate of 7.5 cents.

Rally proponents, however, spoke out against what they considered to be exorbitant fees and commissioners decided to table the issue while the forestry and engineering departments re-examined their fee proposals.

A rally scheduled for October was cancelled and with another event looming in May, Hood River County Public Works Director Mikel Diwan wanted to offer a rate that he said was “more of a compromise.”

“We’re not trying to run the road rally out of business,” he told commissioners last week. “We’re just trying to protect the roads and I think it should be reflective of the damage that is caused.”

The new fee was based off the cost of laying an eighth of an inch of rock on a 16-foot-wide section of road, but Diwan still thought it should be more.

“I don’t think it really reflects the damage that is caused by this event,” he said.

After commissioners voted to approve the recommended fees, County Administrator Dave Meriwether asked Jeff Lemley, a race organizer who attended the meeting, whether the new rate would work for the rally groups.

“We’ll have to see,” Lemley said. “It’ll be a pretty healthy entry fee.”

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