May 25, 2018

Commissioners approve $5 increase to annual vehicle registration fee

BATAVIA, Ohio (May 25, 2018) – Commissioners on May 23 approved a $5 increase to the annual motor vehicle registration fee for Clermont County residents. It will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, and will fund the county’s Road Improvement Program.

County Engineer Patrick Manger initially requested the increase when he came before Commissioners on March 12. At that time, he presented information about the need for the additional revenue – approximately $1 million – the fee would raise in the county.

In Ohio, county engineers’ offices are funded through the Ohio gas tax (28 cents per gallon distributed equally among 88 counties), and vehicle registration fees. In 2017, the Clermont office received $7.2 million in registration fees and $2.3 million in gas tax revenues. That revenue funds the repairing and repaving of county-maintained roads.

Manger noted that revenue from those two sources has remained essentially flat since 2007. Yet the cost of asphalt has doubled in that time, Manger said, from $57.75 per cubic yard to $132 per cubic yard. He also noted that at current revenue levels, the average paving cycle for each county road is 38 years, while the industry standard is 10-12 years. The additional revenue would help close the gap, he said.

Three public meetings were held in May – in Miami Township, the Village of Batavia, and the Village of New Richmond — to share information on the proposed increase, and to hear from residents both in favor and against it.

Under the resolution approved on Wednesday at Session, revenue from the $5 increase will be tracked separately from other revenue sources in the Engineer’s Office, and all of it will go into the county’s Road Improvement Program for road resurfacing. Manger said at Session that over the last five years, the county has averaged $1 million to $1.2 million in revenue for resurfacing. The additional revenue of $1 million will essentially double that.

Commissioner David Uible said that a longer-term fix to road issues rested with the State Legislature, and that with more hybrid and electric vehicles on the road, another revenue source besides the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fees should be found.

Commissioner David Painter said that in his travels around the county the first, second and third priorities he hears from concerned residents are “fix the roads, fix the roads, fix the roads. The additional $5 will be used to address this concern,” he said.

“Keeping our roads in good condition, and resurfaced on a regular basis, is important to our residents and our employers,” said Commissioner Ed Humphrey, President of the Board of Commissioners. “This increase will allow the County Engineer to repair roads more quickly, and make them safer for every driver.”

Under the State Transportation Bill (House Bill 26), which took effect on June 30, 2017, counties are permitted to place an additional $5 license fee on vehicle registration fees. Commissioners must authorize the additional fee. Hamilton County has also approved such an increase. Warren County is holding public hearings in June on a proposed $5 increase to its motor vehicle registration fee.

The last license plate tax increase prior to this one was in 2005 to repair and refurbish bridges in Clermont County.

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