Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s plan to raise the state’s gas tax by 18 cents per gallon would bring large revenue increases to governments across Butler and Warren counties, according to state data.
State gas tax revenue can only be used for construction, maintenance and repair of public highways and bridges, which some local and state lawmakers say lack enough funding.
The plan, which would need approval by the Ohio legislature to take effect, would initially increase the gas tax to 46 cents per gallon starting July 1 and raise an additional $1.2 billion annually statewide.
Across Butler County, it would mean $6.5 million more for local governments by 2024 compared with the current funding. In Warren County, it would mean $3.7 million more for local governments in that time span.
DeWine might have to sell the plan to members of his own party who oppose any new taxes, and it has drawn mixed reviews from local drivers.
Dan Foote, of Liberty Twp., said any increase in taxes reduces consumer spending.
“My major concern is what are we going to get for it? What do we get for our money?” he said. “My opinion is over the last several years and the tax increases and the … ability of government to spend our tax dollars wisely has decreased.
“It’s discouraging to see the tax increases and not see the benefits. If it all goes to road repair, fine, but let’s repair them. The conditions of our roads, particularly this year, after this winter, are deplorable. We never seem to come to a resolution.”
Acknowledging that the roads need to be fixed, Jason Fagaly of Mason said he would be more at ease with a solution that utilizes existing resources.
“There’s 50,000 inmates in the state of Ohio,” he said. “A lot of them are work release. They probably could fix every pothole in the state and make $20 a month doing it. It’s a lot cheaper than putting more tax on the gas.”
Fagaly noted the situation wouldn’t be a cut-and-dry one, acknowledging other countries pay more than the United States does to fuel up, but said an increase in the gas tax would likely lead him to limit the amount of miles he drives.
“I drive an F-150 with a 37-gallon tank. If gas is $3 a gallon, it’s $111 to fill my tank up,” he said. “I work a restaurant, so I’m not wealthy by a long shot.”
Residents also said the increased tax could also pull cash away from the state, as truck drivers start filling up before and after driving through Ohio to avoid the increased tax, he said.
The state keeps 60 percent of gas tax revenues and sends 40 percent to counties, cities, villages and townships, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Each of the state’s 88 counties gets an equal share of the gas tax, currently a $2.4 million allocation. If the 18-cent increase is approved, counties would each get an additional estimated $1.77 million in the first year, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The amount that goes to the local municipalities is based on the number of motor vehicles registered in each one. For townships the state calculates the share based on the vehicle registrations and the number of center-line roadway miles in the township.
Jurisdictions in Butler County now get $8.4 million annually from gas tax. If it is increased, that total would rise to $14.9 million by state fiscal year 2024, according to ODOT data.
For example, Hamilton gets $1.9 million now from the gas tax, but by 2024, the city would get nearly $3.6 million, an additional $1.6 million for its roads and bridges. Middletown would increase from about $1.6 million to nearly $3 million in 2024, and Fairfield would go from $1.7 million to $3.2 million.
Local townships also would benefit. Liberty Twp. gets $259,951 from the tax but would more than double to $625,175 by 2024 and West Chester Twp. would go from $387,988 to $973,626.
DeWine’s proposal would index the gas tax to inflation, so that it will automatically change annually based on the economy.
Staff writer Laura A. Bischoff contributed to this report
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