Delaware residents can now expect to see an additional $5 fee levied on their car registrations beginning in 2021. Delaware City Council approved the fee by a 6-1 vote following the third reading of the ordinance Monday.
Councilman George Hellinger was the lone member to vote against the fee.
Ohio House Bill 62, which established the 2020-21 state transportation budget, went into effect last July. Included in the bill was the authorization of municipalities to levy the $5 vehicle registration tax. The city of Delaware joins the city of Powell, which approved the fee last July, in taking advantage of the additional funding.
The tax will be in addition to the $5 fee Delaware County already implemented on all drivers in the county beginning in 2019. Approximately $180,000 in additional funds is expected to be generated by the implementation of the fee for the city. Per the Ohio Revised Code, the monies collected from the tax can only be used for costs associated with public roads, highways, bridges and traffic signs.
During the Feb. 10 council meeting, City Engineer Bill Ferrigno discussed with council all the shortfalls toward which the funds could be dedicated. Among those shortfalls, Ferrigno highlighted a $1.25 million gap in funding for street pavement and a $375,000 difference between what is funded and what is recommended for street maintenance.
Ferrigno highlighted two particular areas he feels are important to traffic safety and would be important to designate a percentage of the funds toward, should the tax be approved.
The first, he said, would be addressing the back log in guard rails that need to be installed. Ferrigno specifically noted the need for guard rails by the ponds of the Kesselbrook development on Liberty Road, as well as on River Drive, and he said the city is in need of around $130,000 to fully catch up on the repair and installation needs.
Second, Ferrigno said the funds would be big for the city’s ability to install traffic-calming measures. He added a third measure that could use a better focus would the handicap ramps around the city, which he said should always be important, but they are “behind” on ramp maintenance.
Vice Mayor Kent Shafer expressed a desire to designate the funds coming in from the tax right away to a specific area or project in order to let the public know exactly where its money is being spent. To ensure the residents are clear on where their money will be spent, additional language was added to the ordinance specifying those intentions ahead of the third reading.
The ordinance now states the funds “will be used to complete priority roadway safety initiatives, including ADA accessibility, traffic calming, pedestrian crossings, and guardrail and pavement marking projects.”
Public hearings for the ordinance were held at both the second reading on Feb. 10 and during the final reading on Monday. However, no residents were present at either reading to voice their opinions on the fee.