Engineer asks for license plate fees to help fund roadwork across the county

Guernsey County Engineer Paul Sherry on Tuesday asked county commissioners to consider two $5 license plate fees authorized by the Ohio legislature for vehicles registered in the county to generate income for the repair of local roads.

The engineer said the average Guernsey County household with 2.5 occupants spends less than $400 or $155 per person per year in gasoline taxes and license plate fees used for road works in the county.

“If we looked at the license plate fee…$10 per car per year, that’s nominal and would generate the half million dollars for our department,” Sherry said. “If you have two vehicles, it’s $20 a year.”

The Highways Department, due to COVID-19 and other factors, experienced a $900,000 reduction in revenue in 2020 and a $600,000 loss in revenue last year.

And with current inflation rates, the price of materials and services used by highway service will skyrocket in 2022.

The combined $10 fee would be in addition to the current $5 fee that generates $3.50 per vehicle for the county highway department. The remaining $1.50 is split among other county government entities, according to the engineer.

Paul Sherry

“Neither the state nor the feds are going to dig us up,” Sherry said. “Instead, they’re looking at us and wanting to know what we’re doing to take care of ourselves. If we’re not taking advantage of all the funding options that we have, they’re going to say you’re not really worried about it. .

“So we need to at least take a look at it. Again, I implore the commissioners once again to start the hearings process. It’s all done internally and doesn’t need to go to a vote. This is a process that the Legislature has given to the Commissioners and can be approved with a resolution We can help minimize some of these long term impacts to prevent the roads from getting worse.

“Right now we’re backing off, and we’re backing off fast,” Sherry concluded.

Sherry was also concerned about lawmakers’ attempts to repeal the gas tax.

In 2021, the Highways Department received $3.7 million in gasoline taxes, which are split equally among Ohio’s 88 counties; $1.7 million from license plate fees; and $166,000 on the current permissive $5 fee enacted in 1990.

“Where are our priorities?” Sherry asked. “People want to develop this county. People want to live without dust. They want to live healthy. We have to make it a priority.”

The commissioners took the request under advisement without further action.

Sherry’s request followed her annual report to the commissioners.

Major projects discussed by the engineer included the resurfacing of 10.2 miles of roadway on Fairground, Plainfield and High Hill roads at a cost of $2.2 million. Grant funds received for the project totaled $894,906.

He also highlighted a bridge replacement project on Pigeon Gap Road at a cost of $613,557 with $490,846 in grants.

Cold paving and salvage work was completed on Happydale, Patch and Sampson roads, while chip and seal salvage was carried out on Range, Frankfort, Greendale, Christian Hill and Sugar Grove roads.

The commissioners and Sherry also held two tender openings for culvert pipes and road materials to be used by the road department.

Sherry said the county is looking for six-month deals for the products in hopes that prices will drop over the year.

“We’ll be posting RFPs again in the fall,” Sherry said.

The county has received bids for various sizes of crushed limestone including #57, #8, #304 and screenings from Shelly-East Fultonham, National Limestone and Sergeant Stone.

Bids were based on delivery to county highways in Cambridge, Middlebourne, Madison or pickup from the seller’s factory.

Quotations for crushed limestone ranged from $22 to $31.75 for delivery and $10.75 to $28.50 for pickup. Bids submitted by Shelly-East Fultonham would have included an 11% rate increase based on current fuel costs.

Tenders for different sizes of washed gravel delivered to the same locations or collected from the factory have been received from Clark Clay Company, Mar-Zane and Shelly-East Fultonham.

Prices for washed gravel for #57, #8 and grit ranged from $13 to $36.20 for delivery and $5.50 to $22 for factory pickup.

Mar-Zane submitted a low bid of $65 per ton for hot mix, and Asphalt Liquids was the sole bidder for asphalt materials.

Only one bidder, Pipelines, submitted bids for culvert pipe comprising $8.75 for 12-inch pipe, followed by $15.40 for 18-inch pipe, $26.45 for 24-inch, 45, $97 for 36 inches, $77.29 for 48 inches and $129 for 60 inches.

Prices are the same for delivery to Cambridge and Middlebourne locations.

Sherry reported that the price of the 12-inch pipe and all other sizes had almost doubled from a year ago, when a section cost $4.79.

Miscellaneous items approved by the Commissioners included:

  • A five-year lease with the Guernsey County Soil and Water Conservation District at its location in Old Washington for $18,000 per year.
  • Adoption of a new salary scale at the Guernsey County Department of Employment and Family Services.
  • Marriage License Issued and Domestic Violence Fund Cancellation Fee to Haven of Hope Inc. for the second half of 2021.
  • Allow Haven of Hope to display teal ribbons on the trees outside the Guernsey County Courthouse in support of victims and survivors of sexual assault.

Guernsey County Commissioners meet every Tuesday and Thursday at the County Administration Building at 627 Wheeling Avenue. Call the office, 740-432-9200, for more information or to be added to the meeting schedule.

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