The Delaware County Board of Commissioners approved the request of the county engineer’s office Monday to set dates in January for two public hearings to consider levying a registration tax on all motor vehicles in the county.

According to the commissioners’ journal, both public hearings will be held in the commissioners’ hearing room at 101 N. Sandusky St., Delaware, with the first hearing to be held at 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 24 and the second held at 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 28.

Delaware County Chief Deputy Engineer Rob Riley said the 132nd Ohio General Assembly in 2017 passed legislation authorizing counties the option to place a $5 fee on vehicle registrations for the purpose of being used for the construction and maintenance of county roads. He said several counties have adopted the fee since it became effective.

“I would note that our registration fees have been the same for the last 30 years,” he said. “That is a long time to go without any adjustment for inflation.”

According to Riley, the county currently charges two permissive license fees totaling $10.

“This would be a third $5 fee placed on vehicle registrations starting in 2020, assuming this would be passed by your board in 2019,” he said.

Quickly doing the math, Commissioner Jeff Benton noted that there are approximately 200,000 registered vehicles in Delaware County.

“It would roughly generate $1 million,” he said.

In an interview after the commissioners’ session, Riley said the county engineer’s office has “a very aggressive road improvement plan” to provide and maintain the roads of the county over the next five years. However, he said costs have more than doubled.

“Asphalt has more than doubled in 10 years,” he said. “We have 30 traffic lights to maintain — 20 years ago we didn’t have any.”

Riley said the county roads are traveled by “10,000 cars per day.”

“It all adds up,” he said.

According to Ohio Revised Code 4504.24, “The board of county commissioners of a county may, by resolution, levy an annual license tax upon the operation of motor vehicles on the public roads and highways in that county for any authorized purpose.”

According to the code, “authorized purpose” means the tax is to be used only for the following items: Purchasing, erecting, and maintaining street and traffic signs and markers; erecting, and maintaining traffic lights and signals; planning, constructing, improving, maintaining, and repairing public roads, highways, and streets; and maintaining and repairing bridges and viaducts.

The list is only an example of a few of the items the tax is allowed to be used for.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, “The tax shall be at the rate of five dollars per motor vehicle on all motor vehicles in the district of registration of which is located in the county levying the tax, as defined in section 4503.10 of the Revised Code.”

By D. Anthony Botkin

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Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.