Proposed letter to Oregon officials will be addressed at Jan. 2 meeting
VANCOUVER — During Tuesday’s Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council (RTC) meeting, Port of Vancouver Commissioner and RTC Council Member Jerry Oliver presented a letter to be sent to Tammy Baney of the Oregon Transportation Commission opposing Oregon’s proposed tolling on I-5 and I-205.
Oliver moved to amend the agenda to consider the letter be added as an action item to the agenda for discussion, and the motion was seconded by Clark County Councilor Eileen Quiring.
Shortly after Oliver moved to amend the agenda, confusion among the RTC council members ensued. There was a question as to whether or not he made the motion prior to the approval of the agenda. Legal council eventually weighed in stating there was an attempt by Oliver to be recognized by RTC Chair Jeanne Stewart and that it should be at the chair’s discretion whether or not the effort to be recognized in time was made. Stewart felt Oliver did make the attempt to be recognized before the agenda was approved.
Discussion regarding the motion to add the proposed letter to the agenda as an action item followed and several council members voiced their opposition to the motion feeling they did not have sufficient enough time to review the letter nor did they have the opportunity to discuss the letter with their constituents or the members of the boards in which they represent. Among those opposed were Washougal City Council Member Paul Greenlee and Vancouver City Council Member Jack Burkman. Greenlee asked Oliver if he had spoken to the other regional ports regarding the letter and Oliver responded, “Yes, the support is unanimous.”
Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow stated he wasn’t in disagreement with the letter so much as he was the time it may take to flesh out the proposed letter during the meeting. Mayor Onslow raised concerns that the RTC already had a hefty agenda to address that night and wasn’t sure if the council would “have time to get into that particular amendment” and couldn’t support the amendment to the agenda at that time.
Greenlee quickly followed Mayor Onslow’s statement, “In light of that, I move that the amendment be tabled until next month” to which Burkman seconded the motion. A vote was taken and the council ruled that the issue of the letter would be tabled until the next meeting.
On Dec. 1, U.S Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler sent a letter to the RTC ahead of the scheduled Dec. 5 meeting urging the council to take a stand against Oregon’s plan to implement tolling across both I-205 and I-5.
“Vital roadways used by 74,000 Washington residents each day,” Herrera Beutler stated in her letter. She went on to say she wasn’t opposed to the concept of a user fee paid for by the users of the resource, however Herrera Beutler drew a strong distinction between what she felt is fair to Southwest Washington commuters and what is not fair.
“Using tolls to price people out of their cars, or to pay for Oregon infrastructure miles away from our shared resources is something else – it’s clearly a bad, unfair deal for Southwest Washington commuters,” she wrote.
In the closing of her letter, Rep. Herrera Beutler urged the RTC to take a stance. “Now is the time for the RTC to weigh in with this process by sending Oregon a clear message that the RTC is looking out for the best interests of Southwest Washington, and that it opposes any tolling plan that would treat its stakeholders unfairly.”
The next RTC meeting is scheduled for Tue., Jan. 2, 2018 at 4 p.m. at the Clark County Public Service Center, 6th Floor Training Room, 1300 Franklin St, Vancouver, WA 98660.
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler’s letter in its entirety can be read at https://herrerabeutler.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=399077