LIMA — Those updating the registration on their cars may notice the sticker fee has increased since their last visit to the registrar’s office.
To raise an additional $740,000 to pay for road and bridge projects, Allen County Commissioners passed two resolutions Thursday afternoon that bumped up the permissive license fee by $10 for those living outside the city limits of Lima and Spencerville and by $5 for those inside city limits.
The increase was approved after a series of public meetings, two on Monday and two on Thursday, where residents could voice their concerns. A total of six people ended up attending the meetings held at the Allen County Engineer’s Office.
All four meetings were advertised correctly beforehand in accordance with Ohio’s Sunshine laws.
Allen County Engineer Brion Rhodes laid out the need for the fee increase during a short presentation.
Rhodes said his office is responsible for maintaining and constructing 352 miles of roads and 377 bridges in the county.
“Due to increasing costs and decreasing funds, this has become a near-impossible task,” he said.
Rhodes explained that since 1994, paving costs have tripled yet many sources of government funding hasn’t been updated to deal with inflation for decades.
Rhodes gave the example of the Ohio gas tax, which collects 3.4 cents on every gallon of gas for the use by Ohio counties, which is then split evenly by 88. That means a 20-gallon purchase, which would cost the consumer over $50, would generate less than a penny for Allen County.
The license permit fee increase would help deal with the shortfalls caused by the two trends. The change allows the county to pave an additional 10.5 miles of road and replace one to two more bridges a year. The added annual funds could also be used to pay for the matching portion of state and federal grants that finance road and bridge projects.
Even with the increase, however, the county will still be falling behind when it comes to road and bridge maintenance. Rhodes estimates the county needs to be replacing eight bridges and paving 24 miles of road annually.
“It will not solve my problem, but it will help significantly,” Rhodes said.
“There is no doubt this is a major issue that needs to be addressed,” Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.