Etna Township residents will begin to see a $5 price increase when they register their vehicles annually.

Etna Township residents will begin to see a $5 price increase when they register their vehicles annually.

Etna Township trustees on June 22 voted 2-1 to approve a $5 license-plate registration fee. Trustee Jeff Johnson was the lone dissenter.

The fee, to be charged per vehicle annually beginning Jan. 1, 2011, will be used for road and bridge maintenance, according to Etna's fiscal officer, Walter Rogers.

Trustee John Carlisle said estimates from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles show the fee should raise $48,000 to $50,000 annually for the township.

Six residents four for the measure and two against it expressed concern about what this money would be used for.

"I have full confidence with what you decided to do," resident Gil Guttentag said. "I have one request: that the money goes into a separate account for road and bridges so it will be used for what it is supposed to be used for."

Carlisle and Rogers told the residents Ohio law mandates that the funds must be used for only roads and bridges and may not be used for any other purpose or moved into any other fund, unlike the general fund, which may be used for many purposes.

"I want to express my support for the license tax," resident Mark Schaff said. "I am fully supporting good maintenance. We need this to adjust the shortfalls of funds that the state is giving us. It is not much money; it comes to about as much as a Starbucks cup of coffee."

Mark Giesey, a member of the Cumberland Trail Homeowners Association, said the association's members don't approve.

"It is too widespread," he said. "We would like it to go directly towards the roads."

Resident Albert Bliss agreed: "I am opposed. It isn't defined enough. When proposed it was for roads, not buildings or vehicles."

The trustees pointed out that the roads-and-bridge fund also included maintenance vehicles, such as snow plows, saying that to maintain the roads, the township's vehicles must be up to the task.

Of the three snow plows in Etna, one probably should be replaced, Carlisle said but added that it probably could last another year.

"This board is very fiscally responsible," he said. "We watch every penny that goes out these doors."

He said the fee is "cheaper than asking the residents for a bond levy, (and) we get 100 percent of the amount collected because there is no administrative fee."

Rogers suggested that the trustees discuss the fee annually in December when going over the budget for the following year.

Carlisle agreed: "We should revisit this if things take off with the JEDZ (joint economic-development zone) or if the economy turns around."

Residents who oppose have 30 days to present a referendum petition to the township.

Residents who live within the Reynoldsburg city limits won't be required to pay the annual fee.