Residents in the unincorporated areas of Madison Township will pay $5 more for motor vehicle registrations beginning Jan. 1 to help fund township road repairs.

Trustees, who voiced concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic's financial impact on families, unanimously approved the fee increase during their May 12 meeting.

"It doesn't feel good putting an extra tax on people because we're not sure what the future holds, but we felt like we had to do it because the roads are in such bad shape," trustees chairman John Pritchard said.

Trustees had discussed delaying their decision to later in the year. However, township fiscal officer Laurie Vermeer said the tax needed to be filed with the state by July 1 in order for collections to begin in January.

"We started this process in October and we've put it off and off, but for a very good reason," Vermeer said.

Trustees have discussed and debated the fee increase for months and even asked a residents advisory committee, which offered support, to investigate the tax increase.

The additional tax will bring in approximately $80,000 for township road repairs and improvements, roads superintendent Dave Watkins said.

The state authorized counties, municipalities and townships in March 2018 to impose the additional $5 fee on permissive motor vehicle taxes, with the goal of increasing the amount of 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.

Currently, Madison 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.

Township administrator Susan Brobst has indicated the township could see a 30% reduction in gas tax collections because people are driving less because of the pandemic.

Pritchard said delaying the tax increase for another year isn't feasible.

"We've just been trying to patch these roads together and that's no way to do business," he said. "This money will go a long way in helping us compete for grants in getting some of the roads done."

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