Wagner opposes license tax

Commissioner Jeff Wagner said he does not support a $5 permissive tax for registered vehicles, at a commissioners meeting Tuesday.

Wagner said supporters of the tax raised good points, but he still had reservations that kept him from supporting the fee.

“There is never an end to taxes for good causes and they all stack on top of one another,” he said in a prepared statement.

He said in the past 10 years there have been a couple of taxes to support transportation needs. In 2003, the state raised gas taxes and, in 2009, the state raised driver’s license fees and license plate fees.

Wagner said another reason he opposes the tax is there is no guarantee that passing the fee will have an effect on SR 53 or any other county highways.

“This has been the most frustrating part of this process,” he said. “In the minds of a lot of people, the tax is tied to major road improvements on SR 53. It has been packaged that if we pass this tax, we will get a super-two on SR 53. We have no promise from (Ohio Department of Transportation) or anyone else that they will make 53 a super-two if we have a couple hundred thousand dollars.”

Wagner also said he supports the project to improve SR 53, but he does not think imposing a permissive tax is the right way to fund it.

“ODOT, by law, is responsible for the state highways,” he said.

“Now they want us to pay to study their highway, which may or may not lead to improvements. It just does not sit well with me.”

Commissioner Holly Stacy said it is important to keep the state informed about the county’s concerns with the highway.

“It’s their road and we have no jurisdiction over that road, and no control over when they’re going to decide what they’re going to do on that road,” Stacy said. “I do think we are obligated to do our part to make sure they’re aware that we want improvements or changes.”

Wagner said he would not rule out putting some money toward a study on SR 53, if it was a reasonable amount.

He said the coalition the county had recently formed with Wyandot, Sandusky and Ottawa counties will attract more attention from the state to address local highways.

Wagner said if the majority of commissioners want to put the permissive tax issue on the ballot, he would that.

Stacy has previously stated that she does not support the tax either.

Commissioner Fred Zoeller has spoken in favor of the fee, which he proposed to the board.

For the tax to be implemented, all three commissioners would need to vote for it.

In other business, Clerk of Courts Mary Ward asked commissioners to transfer funds from the Title Administration Fund, which has a surplus, to buy a new copier/scanner machine for her office.

Ward said it would cost about $10,000, and it would not affect the county’s General Fund.

“I think it’s a very positive, moving forward, technology type of thing that I continue to try to do every year,” she said. “It benefits a lot of people.”