(Posted June 8, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Starting January 2019, Madison County residents will pay $5 more per vehicle for license plate registration.
On June 5, the county commissioners approved the $5 permissive license tax, applicable to all motor vehicles. The tax will generate approximately $240,000 per year, all of which will go to the county engineer’s office for road and bridge materials.
County Engineer Bryan Dhume proposed implementation of the tax, made possible through last year’s state budget bill as a way for counties to generate funding.
In public hearings held on May 29 and June 5, Dhume explained that the main revenue sources for his office have changed little in the past decade, while the cost to maintain roads and bridges has gone up.
The state gas tax, which generates $2.4 million per year, was last increased in 2006. Revenue from license plate fees has remained at about $1.5 million for at least the last 16 years. The federal gas tax was last increased in 1993. Overall, revenues for the engineer’s office are up 3 percent since 2007, Dhume said.
While $240,000 isn’t much in the grand scheme of road and bridge work, Dhume said every bit helps. He stated, too, that the $240,000 could serve as matching funds to land more funding in the form of grants.
For perspective, he noted that it costs $85,000 to pave a mile of road and $150,000 to both pave and widen a mile of road. Bridge replacement runs from $100,000 to $1 million, depending on the bridge size.
The county engineer’s office maintains 344 miles of county roads, 127 miles of township roads, and 189 bridges. A survey graded each road and bridge based on condition to help prioritize maintenance and repair work.
Among the roads high on the priority list are those that need more pavement in order to bear more weight and need to be widened to make two-way travel safer. Such projects include: 4.8 miles of Linson Road at a cost of $720,000; 6.1 miles of Finley Guy Road, $915,000; 7.6 miles of Rosedale Plain City Road, $1.14 million; 4.7 miles of Kiousville Palestine Road, $705,000; and 7.1 miles of Charleston Chillicothe Road, $1.06 million.
Dhume also noted that 25 of the county’s bridges that measure 20 feet or more are graded as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Several of the aforementioned road and bridge projects are in line for federal funding that requires local matching dollars, he said.
The public expects roads and bridges to be in good condition, Dhume said, adding that his office does what it can to use its funding efficiently.
“Our infrastructure is not only critical to transportation in our county but also our growth,” he said.
County Commissioner David Hunter initially proposed postponing implementation of the $5 permissive tax but changed his mind after talking to Dhume more about the responsibilities and financial constraints of the engineer’s office.
“I’m willing to go ahead and make a resolution that we support this and go ahead and enact this $5,” he said following the June 5 hearing.
Hunter and Commissioner David Dhume voted “yes” to implement the permissive license tax. Commissioner Mark Forrest was absent.