Revenue from Franklin County’s vehicle-registration fee in 2019 helped pay for road maintenance, bridge improvements and planning for future work by the county engineer.

An increase in the county’s vehicle-registration fees generated nearly $5.6 million in 2019, the first full year of collections.

The total was in line with estimates. Collections reached about $31.4 million last year, up from $25.8 in 2018.

On Jan. 1, 2019, Franklin County joined more than 20 other Ohio counties in taking advantage of state legislation to add a $5 permissive fee to vehicle registrations with the proceeds earmarked for county road and bridge improvements.

It was the first local fee increase in more than three decades. County officials said the extra funding was needed because of increasing repair costs and flat or decreasing state and federal funding of local infrastructure.

“For many, many years, we had seen a funding gap develop – a funding ‘pothole,’ I called it,” said Cornell Robertson, Franklin County engineer. “... For Franklin County in particular, that $5 increase helped us make some serious ground on filling that funding pothole.”

As for specifics, Brent Welch, chief deputy for support services at the engineer’s office, said the permissive-fee proceeds were used to complete $1.3 million-plus in additional road resurfacing, or about 7 additional miles of 24-foot-wide road and 7,889 tons of additional asphalt.

The additional funding also went to a bridge project on Borror Road in the southern part of the county, Braun Road in the southeast and an intersection and bridge improvement at Morse and Kitzmiller roads near New Albany. It also went to an extra round of roadside mowing and other projects.

“We’re trying to put (the additional revenue) to good use, thinking of things that not only can be realized by constituents right away but also putting some of that money toward design for future improvements, as well,” Robertson said. “That’s our plan, to come at it from multiple directions and stretch the dollars as far as we absolutely can.”

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