Barring a referendum, Franklin County residents will pay $5 more to register their vehicles beginning next year.

County commissioners unanimously adopted the fee increase April 17 after hearing from township, agriculture, real-estate and health officials supporting it.

The extra money is expected to provide $5.6 million annually for Franklin County to use to plug potholes and maintain roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

"You never take raising a fee, no matter how large or small, lightly," Commissioner Kevin Boyce said, adding that he thinks the work the fee will fund is needed.

Cornell Robertson, the county engineer, asked commissioners to approve the fee because of decreasing state funding and the higher costs of stone, concrete and other materials used to build and maintain roads and bridges.

The engineer's office held four public hearings this month to allow residents to comment on the fee increase. No one opposed the plan.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Central Ohio Transit Authority, Sheriff Dallas Baldwin, a construction-trades official and a union member all spoke in favor of it at a recent commissioners meeting.

Now there is a 30-day window to allow for filing a referendum. The issue could be placed before voters if enough signatures are gathered to oppose the fee.

If there is no referendum, the increase will become official and be collected beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

The cost to register a vehicle varies, depending on where a person lives. In Columbus, it costs $54.50 to renew a car registration for one year with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles if you go to a deputy registrar's office. That figure includes $31 for the registration sticker, $3.50 for the deputy registrar fee and $20 for the city's permissive tax.

Most Franklin County municipalities charge $20 for the permissive tax, but some, such as Brice, Grandview Heights and others, charge $15. To find the permissive tax your municipality charges, go to the BMV's Taxing District Code Book online.

In Columbus, the $5 increase by Franklin County would increase the cost of registration to $59.50 at a BMV deputy registrar's office.

Additional fees apply for processing online and other factors.

Robertson said he asked for the increase because the $1 million his office received this year from the Ohio Public Works Commission -- the entity that provides financing for local public-infrastructure projects -- was far less than the $8 million it received last year and $16 million less than it received in 2012.

Many of Franklin County's 357 bridges also require routine maintenance, Robertson said. None is considered to be in danger of failing, but 47 have been rated in poor or fair condition.

Of the engineer's $42 million annual budget this year, $25 million comes from the vehicle-license fees.

Five other counties already charge the $5 fee increase.

kperry@dispatch.com

@kimballperry