PORTLAND — A tax that would have Oregon drivers paying by the mile instead of by the gallon now has a name: OReGO.
Next, the state government plans to see whether it has a future.
The Department of Transportation said Wednesday it would begin a test July 1, signing up 5,000 volunteers to keep track of the miles they drive.
They’d pay a tax of 1.5 cents a mile and get a rebate for the 30-cent-a-gallon Oregon tax they’d pay to drive those miles, The Oregonian reported Wednesday.
For years, the agency has been considering how to replace the gasoline tax, the traditional means of paying for road building and repair. Oregon was the first state to have a gasoline tax, in 1919.
The argument is that cars have become much more fuel-efficient — some using batteries — and drivers are driving less. So, the officials say, gasoline tax revenue hasn’t kept up with construction costs.
After the Legislature rejected a tax on highly efficient vehicles, it authorized the test to begin this summer.
The OreGO website is a means of getting information out to people who would like to take the tax for a spin. They can’t actually sign up until July.
The tax name and logo arose from a tour of the state to talk to residents, said spokeswoman Michelle Godfrey.
People who attended the meetings said they wanted a name and logo that exhibited “freedom from bad roads” while immediately identifying the state, Godfrey said. The stylish OreGo logo shows a perfectly curving highway leading to Mount Hood.
The department has previously run tests of satellite-based systems to track mileage and gotten criticism from people concerned about privacy.
Those who sign up for the tax test this summer will be able to keep track of how much they drive by using a variety of means, from a GPS tracker to a daily diary.
“GPS will be the most hassle-free option,” said Godfrey. “But it’s also the option that people tend to dislike the most.”