The proposed license taxes to support road repair in Morrow County was passed by commissioners after their second public hearing June 4, 2014.
The additional funds generated by the taxes will amount to almost half a million dollars, and County Engineer Randy Bush says, “if people want their roads fixed, we’re going to have to have that extra money.”
Bush calls the additional fee a ‘true users tax.’
“If you have two cars, you’re buying two license plates,” he said last Wednesday. “It’s people using the roads that are paying for it.”
The meeting was attended by Bush and his associate engineer Bart Dennison as well as a number of residents. One resident pointed out that the Amish use the roads but pay no tax. Bush responded the Amish voluntarily pay a $10 buggy tax each year that amounts to about $3000 annually.
Dennison pointed out that revenue is declining every year and cost of materials are rising, but ‘people expect the same [level of repair.]
Morrow County Commissioners passed two $5 taxes in 1989, but there was a referendum and it failed on the next ballot.
“People have 30 days to file a referendum to place it on the fall ballot,” Commissioner Tom Whiston said. “That’s the risk that [we] take. I think there’s a reason we have elected officials; I think there’s a reason the township trustees voted unanimously to direct us to put it (the taxes) on. If you look at what we pay compared to many other states, it’s abysmally low. It won’t satisfy the issue; the issue is bad enough that the state legislature is looking at putting on an additional three license plate taxes on.”
The price of gas does not change what the county receives in taxes, he noted, and the commissioners feel this is the only avenue available to secure more revenue for road maintenance and repair.
“When it comes to voting and referendums, right there sets our referendum,” said resident Nelson Hack. “We elect these gentlemen to do what they think is best for our county, and if we decide we don’t like the job they’re doing, we have a chance to vote on them at the next election. If someone feels strongly they aren’t doing the job they want them to do, the can run for that office. We’re asking them [commissioners] to represent us. If they decide this is what our county needs, then they should vote that way. This what we elect them for.”
If no one files a referendum, the taxes begin January 1, 2015.