MORPC Supports Alternative Funding Tool for Local Roadways and Infrastructure

June 21, 2016

At MORPC, one of our key goals is for the region is to have an advanced and exceptional transportation system. Yet, prior to achieving that goal we must first maintain our roads.

Local governments too often are challenged with constrained budgets and deteriorating infrastructure. MORPC supports commonsense legislation that seeks to provide additional revenue and innovative funding mechanisms to local governments. It is in that spirit that we support Ohio House Bill 528.  

This bill would allow local governments to increase their license plate fees by up to $15 collectively. A license plate fee is paid when purchasing or renewing your vehicle’s license plate with the BMV. Local governments have the option to levy the fee strictly for the purpose of planning, constructing, improving, maintaining, and repairing public roads, highways and streets. Currently, the total combined fee by all local governments (county, township or municipality) is capped at $20 – an amount that hasn’t been increased since the late 80s.

“I am proud to sponsor this bill because I believe that our roads and infrastructure, in many cases, are in much need of maintenance,’’ said Representative Margaret Ann Ruhl (Fredericktown), the sponsor of the bill.  “HB 528 will allow local officials an option for additional funds to complete important projects in their communities.”

Earlier this year, Tom Homan, a MORPC member and city manager of Delaware, provided testimony to the Joint Legislative Task Force on Transportation Issues, which is currently studying alternative methods for funding the construction and maintenance of Ohio's roadways and infrastructure.  Representative Cheryl Grossman (Grove City), a co-chair of the task force, is also a supporting HB 528.

“Funding for local government transportation needs is at a critical point,” Grossman said. “As other revenue sources continue to decline and maintenance costs increase, HB 528 will help supplement some of those critical revenues needed for our local communities.”

Since the fee is permissive and many communities either do not currently have a fee or are not currently at the maximum amount, having the ability to increase it would not be an automatic increase across the state. Although an increase won’t fix every transportation problem, local governments deserve the flexibility to decide if it’s right for them.

HB 528 is being considered in the House Ways and Means Committee, and MORPC will continue to keep an informed eye on the legislation as it progresses.

A map of license fees by municipality can be viewed here.