The cost to register a car in Montgomery County is going up

Montgomery County commissioners approved a $5 annual fee increase to register a vehicle beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

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Montgomery County commissioners approved a $5 annual fee increase to register a vehicle beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

Montgomery County residents will begin paying another $5 a year to register a vehicle beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

No one spoke against the new fee at either of two required public hearings before Montgomery County commissioners approved the new auto registration tax on Tuesday.

The fee will generate about $2 million a year for bridge and road improvements, said Paul Gruner, Montgomery County engineer.

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Gruner said the increased revenue will amount to about 15 percent of the engineer’s office budget and help fix county bridges in disrepair.

“We have a number of structurally deficient bridges — 23 of those — another 25 are functionally obsolete,” Gruner said during the second hearing Tuesday.

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, opposed the fee and sent a letter to the county commission earlier this month.

“It should not become more expensive for working families to get their license plates renewed. I urge you to reject the proposed $5 fee increase, as it is unfair to our community,” he wrote.

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Chris Kershner, executive vice president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke Tuesday in favor of the new fee on behalf of the chamber and the Dayton Area Logistics Association.

“Maintaining a safe, efficient, free-flowing, accessible and business friendly infrastructure is a strategic role of government that is focused on positive business growth and workforce development,” he said. “As the Dayton region continues to be recognized nationally as a hub for the logistics and distribution industry, maintaining and upgrading our aging roadways is vital.”

A new law in the state transportation budget that passed in March 2017 allowed 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 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.

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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. The additional taxes will now climb to $25 for many in the county.

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

More than 518,000 vehicles are registered in the county, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

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.

“Our goal here is to keep the roads safe, keep the roads open – which is related a lot to the bridges – and provide an acceptable road surface,” Gruner said.

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