Canal Winchester City Council unanimously approved an increase in the motor vehicle license tax April 7, joining the majority of municipalities in Franklin and Fairfield counties charging the maximum allowed by law.
The motor vehicle license tax will be $20, effective Jan. 1, 2015, an increase of $5 over current rates.
According to city Finance Director Amanda Jackson, the higher fee will bring in an additional $35,000 for Canal Winchester. She said the counties recently agreed to raise their fees as well from $10 to the maximum of $15 allowed by Ohio law.
"The counties have enacted everything that the county can enact," Jackson said.
Mayor Michael Ebert added that there is current legislation in the Ohio General Assembly which could allow cities to collect a total of $30 in registration fees, a further $10 increase over the current $20 cap.
City Public Works Director Matt Peoples said the additional $5 would equate to nearly 10 percent of the current street maintenance budget, with all the money going back into the city's infrastructure.
"While the county fees can only be used on roads in the specific county they're associated with, and not necessarily just in Canal Winchester, the new city fee would have the boundary of Canal Winchester, not based on the county," he said.
According to Peoples, the street department is not currently self-sufficient, meaning that any funds not awarded through grants or other contributions come out of the general revenue fund.
"I think we do a good job with our roads, but we think we could do better and in the grand scheme of things, right now we're taking between $400,000 and $500,000 out of the GRF, just to maintain our roads," Peoples said. "And that means little investment in anything else, like the parks."