Advance approval of work may be needed

A proposal to enact a $5 license fee to help attract state funding for improvements to SR 53 presents a Catch-22 situation.

For those readers too young to recall the Joseph Heller novel by the same title, a Catch-22 situation is one in which the desired outcome or result cannot be achieved due to an inherent paradox.

In the book, a military pilot who wanted to avoid combat hoped to prove he was unfit for duty because he was mentally unfit. And military rules allowed members who were unfit for duty to avoid combat. But anyone who wanted to avoid such a hazardous duty obviously was sane.

In the situation presented to Seneca County commissioners, revenue from an extra $5 license tax would be used to secure state funding for safety improvements to SR 53. But, there’s no guarantee the Ohio Department of Transportation would agree to schedule the project if the license fee is approved. On the other hand, without the revenues from the fee, such a project is much less likely to occur.

What is needed is preliminary approval for the project from the state.

This has worked with school building projects. The Ohio School Facilities Commission has offered to help fund several school construction projects in our area, if school districts could provide matching funds. This allowed school boards to announce the state funding that would be available before putting bond issues before voters.

A similar approach involving preliminary approval from ODOT may be needed before a majority of commissioners – and voters – support a new fee.