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Urges commissioners to pass license fee hike

Published: May 28, 2014 4:00 AM

Our Portage County engineer has asked our commissioners to enact two "permissive" license fees adding $10 to each vehicle registration, costing an additional $1.67 per month for each vehicle. Many states' license fees are four to five times Ohio's, even with the increase.

Sixty-five percent of our county roads are in poor condition and only 16 percent are in good condition. Some bridges in our county in such bad shape that school buses are not allowed to cross them. All of the new money will go to capital improvements -- to fix our roads and bridges. We need them fixed this summer.

Fees can be enacted: (1.) The regular method -- the commissioners can adopt a resolution that will not go into effect for 30 days and is subject to a referendum. In other words, at a minimum, with no referendum the money is not available until July. If a referendum is called for, the vote would be in November. More deterioration for another year before serious repair can be done. Worse, a year's opportunity to apply for federal and state matching grants will be lost -- Portage losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to do more repairs. (2.) The electorate method -- the commissioners adopt a resolution to present the fees to the electorate. This method creates certainty that major work is delayed until next spring, certainty that Portage will miss out on matching grants and need to do much more serious repairs. (3.) The emergency method -- The commissioners can declare our road deterioration is an emergency and vote unanimously to enact the increase. When 65 percent of our roads are rated "poor" -- the lowest rating -- this is an emergency. Deteriorated roads pose threats to safety, damage to our cars, danger to our lives, and reduced property value.

We cannot afford to wait until next year. Economically, it makes more sense for each of us to spend $10 more per year on each vehicle than to have to repair broken axles or to pay $50 for a realignment.

Our commissioners must fulfill their responsibility -- pass the resolution on an emergency basis so the county engineer's office can apply for matching grants and start repairing our roads and bridges.

Gwen B. Fischer, Hiram

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redleg6 May 29, 2014 10:31 AM

Info from Portage County Engineers web page:.

FEBRUARY, 2013...Preliminary Engineering Report..Hiram Bike Trail Study: Prepared for: Portage County Engineer..

This study is funded by a congressional set-aside from the FY 2010 US Transportation Bill.

Estimated Project Cost; The estimated total project cost for Alternative A is as follows:

Total Probable Cost $7,826,300...The approximate length of this alternative is 20,780 feet and the average cost per foot is $377.

From: Portage County Engineer 2012 ANNUAL REPORT

Summit-Powdermill Roundabout Plan Set

 Plans to change the intersection started after it was rated the fourth highest accident intersection in the County in 2005. A safety study funded by the County Engineers Association of Ohio recommended the roundabout concept. The association also approved a $681,000 federal highway safety grant to build the roundabout, which would be the first in Portage County. The right-of-way plan has been completed and 2013 should see the acquisition of the necessary permanent and temporary right-of-way. Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014.

@cog....You are correct. The funding for the study of the Hiram hike/bike trail was funded by the feds. Also the funds for the Roundabout are from the feds. Where does it say Hiram College is going to help pay for the trail?

My point is, times are tough and money is hard to come by.  Grants are taxpayer dollars. It is not free money, and I hate to see our tax money wasted. We need roads/bridges fixed, Not Roundabouts and hike/bike trails thru the woods.

$7.8 million for a 4-5 mile trail? Or $680 thousand for a Roundabout, when the stop signs seem to be working? Wasteful spending is not good stewardship of our tax dollars.

PS...From the hike/bike study...

The Indiana Bat, Bald Eagle, Mitchell’s Saytr Butterfly, "Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake",

Northern Monkshood and Northern Rose Azalea are an endangered species located within Portage County.

Happy Hiking



childofgod May 28, 2014 4:18 PM

Sorry redleg6, but your information is not correct this time. The Hiram Hike+Bike Trail is funded by Federal / State $ with the local share being paid for by Hiram College. The PC Engineer was gracious enough to "sponsor" the Application we submitted for Federal $, but Hiram College paid even for the application preparation.

The Summit Street roundabout is also being funded mostly by Federal $.

The County road conditions are that way, as are most roads in Ohio and probably in the USA, due to lack of gas tax revenues, and Local Govt. funds cut by the State. The County Engineer is doing the best he can with limited funds.

redleg6 May 28, 2014 11:30 AM

From above:..Sixty-five percent of our county roads are in poor condition and only 16 percent are in good condition. Some bridges in our county in such bad shape that school buses are not allowed to cross them.

Q. Why did the county let the roads/bridges get into poor condition? They didn't get that way all at once.

Maybe we need a new county engineer.

Google the Portage County Engineers website and read about the money they want to spend on the Hiram hike/bike trail, and the roundabout on Summit Street.

Hey it is only $1.67 per month per vehicle!


TaggR May 28, 2014 9:37 AM

Good common sense letter Gwen.
The poster below sounds like a sore loser, turning to sarcasm for comfort.


rtawney May 28, 2014 8:35 AM

The residents of Portage County just voted for a parks level.  We have spoken parks are more important than roads. Roads cause pollution.  To use roads you have to burn fossil fuels which cause green house gases.  We must not pass a road tax to do so is a vote for green house gases and more global warming and the destruction of the earth.