Mahoning County engineer urges commissioners to increase license plate fee

Local News

MAHONING CO., Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County’s engineer says he’s running out of ways to find more money to fix local roads and bridges.

With the county’s sales tax secure once again, for the time being, engineer Pat Ginnetti told commissioners it’s time to seriously consider implementing a $5 increase in license plate fees to help with road and bridge work.

“It’s probably the cheapest alternative. It’s cheaper than a sales tax, that’s for sure,” he said.

By law, commissioners can impose the increase, which can only be used for road paving and maintenance. It would bring in about $1.3 million on top of the anticipated $1 million per year the recently increased state gas tax would generate.

“Every dollar that we find extra that we had, we’re putting into the roadway and you know, we’re still short,” Ginnetti said.

Ginnetti told commissioners a number of big federal road projects are set to begin over the next six years that will require $5 million in local matching funds. He also needs to find about $7.5 million to replace an aging and broken down fleet of trucks and equipment.

So without that extra license fee, Ginnetti warns he may not have money left for any other local paving. But commissioners admit they’ve been reluctant to approve the increase because of recent job cuts in the area, as well as concerns over the sales tax renewal.

“We just felt it would be a slap in the face to all those people. Throw on an additional… money, even though $5 I think is very doable,” said Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti.

And even afterward, board members still wanted more time.

“We actually are gonna study this. We’ve taken everything under consideration,” said Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Righetti.

But Ginnetti says the clock is ticking — the increase must be implemented by July 1 in order to start collecting next January. If they continue to wait, he says the county might not be able to collect any of that proposed increase until 2021.

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