Montgomery County drivers could pay more as result of new state law

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Montgomery County drivers could pay more as result of new state law

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Chris Stewart
Montgomery County drivers could pay more if an additional $5 tax is approved. A state law changed to allow the additional fee, which would generate about $2 million for local roads and bridges. Here, drivers find themselves in a crawl all the way from downtown to the Edwin C. Moses Boulevard interchange. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Motor vehicle registration and renewal costs in Montgomery County may go up another $5 beginning in 2019 because of a tax proposal to help pay for future road and bridge work.

The tax could generate about $2 million a year for the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office through use of a new law in the state transportation budget that passed in March and allows counties to add the fee to pay for project planning and improvements.

Montgomery County Administrator Joe Tuss said the engineer’s office is expected to submit the plan next month.

“This is something that is sorely needed in this community. Those dollars will be devoted to the road and bridge infrastructure needs,” Tuss said.

The soonest the new fee could hit vehicle owners is January 2019. More than 518,000 vehicles are registered in the county, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

Montgomery County has 541 bridges and 320 miles of roadway, some not in the best shape, said Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.

“None of the roads are in a condition I’d like them to be in,” he said. “Our real income over the last 25 years has increased less than 10 percent, while all of the costs of everything we buy, including asphalt, has more than doubled … That’s the fight we are up against.”

Phil Parker, president and CEO of Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the new tax will likely be supported by chamber members — especially in a local economy heavy on manufacturing and logistics — because the funds will be directly invested on bridge and road projects that will provide a return to the community.

“No one likes extra taxes, no one likes extra fees,” Parker said. “If we ask for a fee increase but designate it for improvements to the transportation infrastructure, I think much of the business community will look at it and say that’s not a waste.”

Most vehicle owners in the county already pay permissive motor vehicle license taxes of $20, which was the limit until the new law took effect in June. If the county commission approves the measure next year, the additional taxes would climb to $25 for many.

The base cost for passenger vehicle registrations is $34.50 annually before tacking on the permissive taxes, which can vary between counties and even by municipalities within the same county if a local government has levied the tax.

Montgomery County vehicle owners in Jefferson Twp., Moraine, New Lebanon, Phillipsburg, Vandalia and Verona currently pay only three of the $5 incremental levies.

The new tax would apply to all vehicle types except for concrete pumps and concrete conveyors, Gruner said. There are also exceptions for some federal, state and local government vehicles and those owned by veterans under certain circumstances.

Two Ohio counties have already approved the fee and will begin collecting it in the 2019 registration year, according to the BMV.

Montgomery County road and bridge projects are financed with a share of fuel tax revenue, the federal Highway Trust Fund and motor vehicle registration fees.

Operations within the county engineer’s office are largely funded through the basic motor vehicle licensing tax, which will provide about $5.2 million of the office’s $14 million 2018 budget. Existing permissive license taxes will account for $4.2 million, and fuel taxes will add $2.3 million, according to county records.

Two public hearings are required before the provision can be voted on by the Montgomery County Commission.

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