Madison Township trustees have delayed their vote on whether residents should pay higher license registration fees to supply funding for road repairs.

While a residents advisory committee supported the $5 increase on permissive motor vehicle taxes, concerns remain about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic's financial impact on families.

By law, trustees may enact a $5 increase on all motor-vehicle registrations in the unincorporated areas of the township.

"With the coronavirus epidemic, many in our community are hurting right now," Katherine Chipps, Citizens Action Committee chairperson, told trustees during their April 14 meeting held via conference call.

"They're dealing with layoffs, the uncertainty of their jobs and health and safety. We wanted to make sure this issue was thought of when considering this measure."

Board chairman John Pritchard and trustees Michele Reynolds and Ed Dildine Sr. agreed and decided to reassess the tax increase at their May 12 meeting.

Township fiscal officer Laurie Vermeer cautioned that waiting until June to approve the increase would "be cutting it really close." If trustees want to collect additional revenue next year, the tax must be filed with the state by July 1.

"I would hate to miss an entire year because of a couple weeks," Vermeer told trustees.

The $5 fee would provide roughly $80,000 in additional annual road-repair funding, according to township roads superintendent Dave Watkins.

The township receives road funding from four sources: a 0.6-mill roads and bridges levy and funds related to the gas tax, motor-vehicle-license tax and permissive motor-vehicle tax.

"Without knowing the impact of COVID-19, we don't know what our gas taxes will be, so it will be difficult to determine what would be available for next year," Watkins said.

Township administrator Susan Brobst said gas-tax collections could be down by as much as 30%.

In March 2018, the state authorized counties, municipalities and townships to impose the additional $5 fee, with the goal of increasing money available for road repairs.

Permissive-tax revenue is to be used by the counties and taxing districts for "planning, constructing, improving, maintaining and repairing public roads, highways, streets, and for maintaining and repair of bridges and viaducts," according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website, bmv.ohio.gov.

The state permits up to 11 such increases of $5 each, but only six may be in effect at any one time in any single taxing district, which is either a municipality (incorporated village or city) or township.

"Things changed with the virus modeling every day," Pritchard said.

"I think by waiting another month, we will be better off in terms of information and understanding how this pandemic is going to affect the township."

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