Commissioners debate $5 vehicle tax

Discussions about a potential $5 permissive tax for registered vehicles continued at Tuesday morning’s commissioners meeting, and Commissioner Fred Zoeller said commissioners need to be leaders and make the tough decision.

“The voters of Seneca County have elected us to do a job,” Zoeller said. “And that job is to be leaders in Seneca County, and not to have status quo.”

He said approving the fee would be the first step in a long process to make the county a better place.

“We can either go the easy way and turn this thing down and not have anything more of it, or take the hard road the leadership road and try and promote Seneca County to the next level,” Zoeller said.

Commissioner Holly Stacy said she and Commissioner Jeff Wagner are not “looking for an easy way out,” and said “due diligence is what it’s about and serving.”

“When I’m ready to take that vote, I want to know that I’ve done my homework,” Stacy said.

Zoeller said he received a personal phone call from Gov. John Kasich, who voiced his support of Seneca County’s initiative to improve the county’s roads, most notably SR 53.

“This is the governor talking to a low-life commissioner,” he said. “We got people’s ear in Columbus.”

The $1.5 billion turnpike money is in the appropriation process now, Zoeller said.

“For us to do this next year, I think we’re losing a large part of the opportunity out there,” he said.

Stacy said she still is undecided and is not ready to vote because she still is doing research including getting a more accurate figure of the number of vehicles that can be taxed in the county.

Wagner said he will give his statement on the matter when commissioners decide to take a vote.

Seneca County citizen Loretta Miller said commissioners should consider making the permissive fee $10 instead of the proposed $5 since the county cannot take money from vehicles in municipalities that already have a fee.

“It’ll be expensive but down the road in the future, it will be very much appreciated by people in Seneca County,” Miller said.

Zoeller said he does not think the county needs to increase the fee to $10 because he said the intent the county shows by collecting the fee should be enough to help land some of the state’s turnpike money.

Also at the meeting, Auditor Julie Adkins requested the commissioners’ support of upgrading the computers in the auditor’s office.

Adkins said her office’s computers have not been updated since 2003, and run on the Windows XP operating system.

She said the upgrades would cost the General Fund a little more than $5,000.

Wagner said he wants to think about it and make a decision at next week’s meeting.

In new business, the board approved:

Bill vouchers

A supplemental appropriation of $5,000 for the Concealed Handgun License Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $1,723 within the Recovery Act Rural Law Enforcement Assistance Fund for 2013.

An appropriation adjustment of $2,000 within the General Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $250,000 for General Fund for 2013.

A supplemental appropriation of $600 for the Dog & Kennel Fund.

A resolution authorizing an agreement with Richland Engineering LTD for tree removal and apron rehabilitation on behalf of the Seneca County Airport.

A resolution rescinding the board’s orders of March 12, 2013, a resolution authorizing the Cost Savings Incentive Program and establishing the Cost Savings Incentive Program fund.

A resolution authorizing the Cost Incentive Program.

A resolution authorizing a right of way easement with Sunoco Pipeline on county-owned land.