(Posted March 15, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Madison County Engineer Bryan Dhume is proposing a $5 permissive tax on all registered vehicles in the county to help offset increased road and bridge construction costs.
A provision in last year’s state budget, House Bill 26, allows counties to add the tax. If approved by the county commissioners, the tax would be applied to each auto license registration annually and take effect in 2019. Public hearings on the proposal are set for 11 a.m. May 14 and 11 a.m. May 21 in the commissioners’ office at the courthouse.
The county is home to about 48,000 registered vehicles. The tax would generate about $240,000 per year for the Engineer’s Office. Dhume said he would use it strictly for road and bridge materials.
While that might sound like a substantial amount of money, Dhume said, it would only increase the Engineer’s Office budget by 5 percent and cover the cost to pave three or four of the 343 miles of roadway the office maintains.
“This isn’t the cure to our funding situation,” he said. “I’m just trying to make up some of the buying power we’ve lost over the years.”
Funding for the Engineer’s Office comes from auto registrations, license permissive taxes, and the state gas tax. The department does not receive revenues from property taxes or sales tax. Since 2006, registration and permissive revenues have gone up 5 percent and the gas tax has remained flat.
In that same time, Dhume said his material costs have gone up 50 percent.
“That’s why people aren’t seeing as many miles of road paved,” he said.
The cost to pave one mile of road is about $85,000.
“Historically, the state had been good about periodic increases in the gas tax. They have not been willing to address it in the last 10 years,” Dhume said, noting that an increase in the gas tax requires state legislation.
The Engineer’s Office plans to upgrade road signage across the county this year. The project calls for replacement of road name signs, curb signs, arrows, chevrons and other markers, as well as the addition of route markers.
Decades have passed since the last major upgrade, Dhume said. Many of the signs are losing their retroreflectivity, making them less visible at night.
Dhume estimated the cost of the project to be $127,000. Federal highway safety grant funds will cover 80 percent of the cost.
Two companies submitted bids for the project. Both bids came in well under the estimate. MD Solutions of Plain City bid $81,606. Osburn Associates of Logan bid $86,486. Both companies have supplied the county with signs in the past.
After reviewing the bids, Dhume will return to the commissioners on March 19 with his recommendation on which company to hire.