After several months of staff analysis and feedback from sign customers, the Council considered overall economic indicators (including regional downturns) as they moved through a two-month process to construct a sustainable signs program.
Important elements in the new fee rate are summarized by the following:
- A 15% increase for business customers (with exceptions as noted in regional rates below)
- A 10% increase for non-profit organizations and museums (with exceptions as noted in regional rates below)
- Revision of rates to the Southern Oregon Coast region: transition from their current region rate (Schedule 4) to a different regional rate (Schedule 5), providing an actual reduction to their sign rates
- A freeze on rate increases in rural areas within Schedule 6; and a freeze for non-profits and museums in Schedules 4, 5, and 6
- A review of rates by the Council on an annual basis
It is anticipated that projects slated for scheduling and completion can now begin to move forward. OTE has over 391 customers currently on sign wait lists. Many existing signs need replacement due to reflectivity loss or pole retrofitting.
Following an April 30, 2012 meeting where the Council asked for more information before voting on a fee increase, staff developed a study of the “Full Access Control Highway Board Replacement Needs” for the period of 2012 through 2016. The study concluded:
- Over the next five years, 122 mainline boards (freeway) and 548 ramp (exit) boards will reach the end of their life expectancy
- The percentage of replacement rate is 19% for mainline boards and 48% for ramp boards.
- There is a variation to the life of any sign board—some may need replacement at the end of five years while others may not
- The average replacement cost for mainline boards is $13,500
- Ramp boards cost $350 to $400 each
- Mainline boards are installed by either Coral Construction or the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Ramp boards may be installed by Coral Construction, ODOT, or OTE sign crews
- At this time, OTE is committed to replacing round sign posts at 19 locations
OTE CEO Cheryl Gribskov’s 28-year relationship with sign customers had a direct impact on the final fee schedule approved by the Council. OTE’s sign customer’s suggestions also helped reshape the new schedule as it stands today. Gribskov also helped guide the sign fee increase outreach program.
Over 2,000 letters were mailed by “snail mail” twice, to ensure sign customers were able to comment on the fee increase proposal. Gribskov initiated conversations with customers and took their comments back to the Council and staff. A third letter distributed by email was a direct message from Gribskov inviting customers to once more (prior to the Council’s vote) give public comment at the June 19, 2012 Council meeting.
The Council has recommended that the new fee schedule be reviewed annually to ensure the program continues to operate without deficit or delays. The program’s mission is to provide a minimal initial-cost program which allows both large and small businesses equal exposure to millions of customers.
The new rates will go into effect immediately and will be reflected in your annual renewal notices. For more information on how the new rates will affect the cost of your sign or where your business falls in the regional schedule, contact Sue VanHandel at 1-800-574-9397 or via email.