Mary's River Estates Road District comprises a section of approximately 5.5 miles of roads that serve a .96 square mile rural residential area with a population of approximately 400 residents. This Coast Range land, just west of Philomath, Oregon off highway 20, was initially owned by Valley Farms, Inc. It became an approved Benton County subdivision on July 31, 1967 with “dedicated streets and park to public use without reservation or restriction” with each lot one acre or larger.
However, the subdivision was approved by Benton County before adoption of a subdivision code and the result was substandard grades and road construction. Therefore, road maintenance was never accepted by Benton County. The roads were treated as privately owned, dedicated to public use.
Residents were left with the dilemma of maintaining the ingress and egress to their homes for themselves and emergency services. In 1974, homeowners, desiring to provide a better solution to a road plagued by frequent drainage problems and rapid surface deterioration in inclement weather, formed the Mary’s River Estates Road District. By a vote of 12 to 0 a levy for a property tax was approved by voters in the newly formed special road district the same year.
All property owners within a Rural Road District such as ours are assessed a separate Rural Road District tax – it appears as a line item part of the annual Benton County Property tax total. This annual tax assessment has been the primary source of money for ongoing road improvements and maintenance. Our voter district is all property owners within the boundaries of the Mary’s River Estates Rural Road District.
Our rural Road District has a $2.91/$1000 maximum tax rate ceiling, which was in effect and was collected virtually every year until 2009. During that time, projected increased budget needs supported the reasoning that raising funds through maximum annual tax assessment was the best way to pay for road widening and paving. See meeting minutes for current assessment tax rate.
The tax rate can be set at any level at or below the .291% ceiling by a majority vote of current Road Commissioners on the Board. Announcement of plans for the tax rate level imposed occurs at the annual Budget Hearing. As adopted, Benton County tax assessor’s office is notified to assess the determined tax rate on the annual property tax statement.
The State of Oregon requires an annual Budget Hearing: a presentation of our Budget by the governing body, which is the three Road District Commissioners. This assembly is mandated to comply with the State requirement of ongoing representation of all affected taxpayers, financial due diligence and formal approval by people currently acting as part of the three member Rural Road District Board of Commissioners.
Mary's River Estates Road District is not the same body as the Property Owners Association - the Road District is a legal, state recognized, tax collection body. The Road District can spend money on road-related concerns only.
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