The Ross Twp. trustees held a public hearing Thursday to get feedback on a plan to impose an additional $5 vehicle registration fee. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Ross Twp. could boost vehicle licensing fees, but virtual meeting is quiet

The trustees aired the public hearing on the police department’s Facebook page and had a phone-in number prominently displayed in front the dais. Board President Keith Ballauer gave instructions several times for how residents could participate in the hearing.

No residents called with questions or statements pertaining to the $5 fee, there were several comments, but mainly questions on the Facebook feed which township staff answered.

“I’m just going to say this makes me sick. Taxed to death,” one person wrote on Facebook. “This is just the beginning. Next thing you know it’ll be 50.00 per plate.”

Another person disagreed.

“Seriously people stop complaining. Most of Ohio already has the higher prices,” another person wrote. “You can’t complain and eat your cake to. Don’t like the prices go to Indiana or Kentucky where the registration is hundreds of dollars.”

When the Ohio legislature passed the transportation bill last year increasing the gas tax, it included a provision that allows jurisdictions to increase fees for vehicle registration from $5 to $10. Jurisdictions do not need approval from their constituents to levy the additional fee, but Ross planned two public hearings, the one on Thursday and another for May 21.

Ross Twp. Road Superintendent Paul Bulach gave an overview of why the additional fee, which is expected to pull in $47,000, is necessary saying over the past 25 years the township has added many more subdivisions and streets but revenues haven’t kept up.

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“It’s obviously much cheaper to maintain a street and keep it in good condition versus waiting until you have to make repairs,” Bulach said. “Currently we’re losing about 25 percent of our gasoline tax due to the pandemic and that’s about $60,000 probably. That’ll help replace that and we have not had a tax increase in 33 years.”

Ross is not the only place in the county to consider levying the additional fee. Hamilton approved the new fee last year, Middletown considered the move but tabled it in February and Liberty Twp. talked about it but has shelved the idea in the wake of the coronavirus financial fallout.

Trustee Ellen Yordy said if someone has four vehicles it would cost them a nickle a day for the additional fee.

“You wouldn’t even know it was gone, you can go home with that much change in your pocket one day going to work. And if you only have one vehicle it’s one penny a day,” Yordy said. “It’s not that we’re out to bankrupt anybody, it’s just a way to obtain money for the road department to keep us on track with road maintenance that benefits you as a resident.”

The township needs to pass legislation by July 1 to begin collecting the money in 2021. Township Administrator Bob Bass said a resolution will be the trustees’ May 21 agenda.

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