OTTAWA — Putnam County residents may be asked to pay $10 more for for their license plate registration as part of a permissive sales tax proposal.
Putnam County commissioners heard a proposal Thursday from Michael Lenhart, Putnam County engineer, who said the increase would be necessary to help pay for roads and bridges in the county that need to be repaired.
There were two public hearings involving the permissive sales tax increase proposal. One option is a section of Ohio Revised Code that is a form of tax that was passed by legislatures that will allow revenues to be raised and shared among municipalities, townships and the county by $5. The second option would raise revenues for the county by another $5.
The additional county motor vehicle license tax that became effective June 30, 2017, was sponsored by then-state Rep. Rob McColley, who now is the county’s state senator.
“There are more than 20 counties who have enacted the tax. The purpose is because county engineers were having a financial shortfall to maintain their roads and bridges, and the legislatures added this sales tax,” Lenhart said.
In 1967 the legislature enacted legislation permitting any county or municipal corporation to adopt a $5 motor vehicle license tax. Under the law, counties were given exclusive authority to enact the license tax by June 30, 1968. If the county did not enact the tax by the deadline, then any municipal corporation in the county could enact the tax, Lenhart said.
No one attended Thursday night’s public hearing. Another set of public hearings will be at 2 and 2:30 p.m. Monday to again review the topic. The commissioners could vote on the proposal once the hearings are completed.
“The county has 330 miles of roads, and over the past 10 years we have averaged six miles of paving per year,” Lenhart said.
Since 2005, he said chip seal costs to maintain the road have increased from $5.20 to $11.05, and asphalt mix costs have gone from $25.25 to $63.25.
“Over the past 10 years we have averaged six miles of paving per year. At this rate, it would take 55 years to pave all the roads at once,” Lenhart said.
In the last three years, the engineering department reduced its total workforce from 30 to 26 people, and the office’s annual revenue has been the same since 2007. The engineer’s office has brought in $6.1 million in grants for roads and bridges, Lenhart said.
Lenhart said he received support from the Putnam County Mayors Association, which is in support of the increases.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.