Powell City Council voted at its July 16 meeting to implement a $5 vehicle-registration tax as officials continue to wrestle with options to fund road maintenance and improvements.
The ordinance goes into effect immediately. Vehicle owners who live within the city of Powell will pay an extra $5 when renewing their annual registrations.
The state of Ohio will route the funds to the city, Powell spokeswoman Megan Canavan said.
The tax, which applies both to personal and commercial vehicles, will raise an estimated $62,000 per year and affect about 12,500 registered vehicles, Canavan said.
While language in the ordinance allows the funds to be used for "public roads, highways, and bridges; costs associated with street and traffic signs; debt service obligations; and costs for similar purposes," Canavan said the money would be "earmarked for road maintenance."
The ordinance was approved by a 4-3 vote, with Jon Bennehoof, Frank Bertone, Tom Counts and Melissa Riggins voting in favor of the tax. Brian Lorenz, Brendan Newcomb and Dan Swartwout opposed it.
After voters rejected an increase in the city's income tax from 0.75% to 1.15% -- while also increasing the tax credit from 0.25% to 0.5% for residents who live in Powell but work in and pay income taxes to another municipality -- in November 2018, city officials began pondering other ways to generate funds for delayed street work.
Counts said the $62,000, while not insignificant, "does not solve the issue (of street maintenance); it merely helps."
Counts pointed to reductions in Local Government Fund disbursement from Ohio in recent years as one reason why the city continues to seek new revenue sources.
In the past, Counts said, the city has budgeted $600,000 or more annually to fund road upkeep; Powell's Citizen Financial Review Task Force has recommended $2 million annually for infrastructure, including about $1 million for street maintenance.
"It's the neighborhood streets that are suffering," Counts said.
He said the vehicle-registration tax could be reevaluated or rescinded in the future.
"This (tax) does not mean we aren't working on a more permanent solution" to funding street maintenance, Counts said, "but until that time, I believe this is the best, most prudent course of action."
Lorenz called the tax a "Band-Aid."
"The residents I've spoken to are not interested in a quick fix to the capital-improvement funding dilemma," he said. "For me, it's not a lot of dollars; it's not going to get us where we need to be."
Lorenz also voiced concern with the language of the ordinance, saying it's not specific enough in how the money will be used.
"I'd like to see some kind of plan for the street repairs," he said. "I expect to see it shortly, but I wanted it beforehand."