Montgomery County plans to raise vehicle license fees; hearings set

Montgomery County municipalities will determine which road projects in their jurisdictions will be funded with about $1.5 million in revenue distributed this year from vehicle registrations. STAFF FILE

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Montgomery County municipalities will determine which road projects in their jurisdictions will be funded with about $1.5 million in revenue distributed this year from vehicle registrations. STAFF FILE

Montgomery County Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve $2.2 million in roadway projects paid for from vehicle license registration fees and also sat dates for two public meetings required before they can raise the cost again another $5 a year.

The added fee is expected to generate about another $2 million a year for the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office, new funding to help repair crumbling bridges, said Paul Gruner, Montgomery County engineer. The county should be replacing 10 of its 514 bridges each year, but will be lucky to do half that, he said.

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“It will allow us to do some badly needed construction projects in the next few years,” Gruner said. “We’re just like everyplace else in the country, we have an infrastructure need. This will allow us to get closer … but we still won’t quite catch up.”

Gruner said funding sources have been stagnant for 25 years while prices of materials like asphalt have doubled.

A new law in the state transportation budget that passed in March allows counties to levy the additional tax. By statute, the additional revenue can only be spent on planning, constructing, improving, maintaining and repairing public roads, highways, streets and bridges.

The public hearings will be Feb. 20 and 27 at the end of regularly scheduled county commission meetings that begin at 1:30 p.m. in room 1001 at the County Administration Building, 451 West Third St., Dayton.

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).

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Most vehicle owners in the county already pay permissive motor vehicle license taxes of $20, the limit until the new law took effect in June. Annual taxes would climb to $25 for many, assessed on top of the base passenger vehicle registration of $34.50 a year.

In 1984, county commissioners approved that the first permissive tax would distribute 75 percent of revenues back to municipalities for road projects. The remaining 25 percent is spent at the discretion of the commission on bridges and projects within villages.

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Nineteen municipalities will determine which road projects in their jurisdictions will be funded with about $1.5 million distributed to them directly. Municipalities typically save annual distributions until enough money accumulates to fund a project, Gruner said.

Not every jurisdiction in the county has levied the maximum number of permissive taxes. Vehicle owners in Jefferson Twp., Moraine, New Lebanon, Phillipsburg, Vandalia and Verona currently pay only three of the $5 incremental levies.

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Phil Parker, president and CEO of Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said previously that the new tax will likely be supported by business because the funds will be directly invested on bridge and road projects that will provide a return to a community that is heavy on manufacturing and logistics.

“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,” he said.

Cuyahoga and Geauga counties have already approved the fee and will begin collecting it in the 2019 registration year, according to the BMV. Summit County Council held its second hearing earlier this week for residents.

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.

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