You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Springfield woman accused of throwing glass candle jar at boyfriend

Fewer cars means fewer road repairs

Clark’s decline in registered vehicles surpasses state average and all area counties.


The number of vehicles registered in Clark County has dropped nearly 10 percent in five years, outpacing a statewide trend that has resulted in less money for counties to repair roads and bridges.

Registered vehicles in Clark County fell from 155,500 in 2008 to 140,300 in 2012. It was the largest drop in the Miami Valley and one that surpassed a 7 percent drop in vehicle registrations statewide, according to a Springfield News-Sun review of records from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

In 2011, the number of registered vehicles in Clark County dipped to its lowest point during that period to 139,700.

The drop in vehicle registrations has hit Ohio county engineers especially hard as it has resulted in a loss in revenue for departments already struggling to keep pace with the rising cost of construction materials.

“It comes at a bad time when everything else is skyrocketing … When those revenues aren’t there, it’s a double whammy,” said Fredrick B. Pausch, executive director of the Ohio County Engineers Association.

Last year, license fees accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Clark County Engineer’s Office budget, bringing in more $2.7 million, Clark County Engineer John Burr said.

Burr and all Ohio county engineers also received $2.3 million from the state gas tax. But the gas tax hasn’t increased in years and has not kept pace with the number of fuel efficient vehicles on the road or the rising cost of construction materials.

Asphalt and guardrails prices, for example, have increased 123 percent and 137 percent, respectively, since 2003, Burr said.

“The material prices are killing us. You put $1 million in and it goes half as far,” Burr said.

Montgomery County has seen its vehicle registrations drop 9.42 percent since 2007-2008.

Vehicle registrations account for two-thirds of that county’s $15 million engineer’s budget, said Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.

The decline in registrations has resulted in fewer resurfacing projects and one less bridge project over a period of a few years, Gruner said.

“There are a lot of things we can do to improve the safety of roads, but we can’t do very many of them because the funding is just not there. A lot of times we can’t get our bridges replaced as soon as we could, or we have to close bridges,” Gruner said.

Champaign County Engineer Stephen McCall said the loss of license fee funding can have a greater effect on larger counties, such as Clark and Montgomery counties.

McCall said license fees account for 35 percent of Champaign County’s $1.3 million budget, and the gas tax makes up about 60 percent of the budget.

“It makes a difference in trying to forecast money and trying to plan. If you lose $100,000, it can greatly affect the projects that you plan. We just don’t have the money to invest in paving,” McCall said.

McCall said Champaign County has relied heavily on using chip and seal repairs to maintain roads and can cover five times as much using that method than paving.

“We’ve set up our office to do a lot of chip and seal because the cost of materials have pretty much doubled in the last 10 years. We have to be very creative and efficient in what we’re doing,” McCall said. “If we want to increase the level of service, we’re going to have to find other sources of funding.”

Area engineers say increasing the gas tax is not the solution because motorists are driving less due in part of higher gas prices and because vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient.

“It’s just going to continue to be eroded. It’s not dependable in the long term,” Gruner said.

Gruner said officials with the engineers association have discussed allowing county engineers to benefit from the Commercial Activity Tax, an annual tax imposed on the privilege of doing business in Ohio, measured by gross receipts from business activities in Ohio.

But Gruner said a better solution could be a tax or a flat fee based on miles driven or an increase in license fees to help balance the shortfall.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Investigators hope new technology will help solve 20-year-old murder
Investigators hope new technology will help solve 20-year-old murder

Investigators are working to solve the 20-year-old murder of a woman killed in her home. Lorrie Smith, 28, was found dead of a gunshot wound at her home on Stonewall Tell Road on May 25, 1997. Her father said he found her body when he went to wake her up for church. “I opened the door and there she was in her blood on the floor. I thought that...
Pike County murders: 5 things to know about latest developments
Pike County murders: 5 things to know about latest developments

The case of the Pike County murders became more complex this week with investigators asking the public to focus attention on one family. Four members of that family — the Wagners — are now believed to be in Alaska, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Here are five things to know about the latest developments in the case: MORE...
Disney fireworks: Vehicles covered in ashes, residents say
Disney fireworks: Vehicles covered in ashes, residents say

The "Happily Ever After" fireworks show happens every night at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. However, residents around the park told WFTV’s Jeff Deal that the fireworks are dropping a mess all over their cars and yards. Ashes and small pieces of card board are falling on vehicles and yards at the Windermere Cay Luxury ...
Police considering manslaughter charges in Grenfell Tower fire
Police considering manslaughter charges in Grenfell Tower fire

Police said Friday that they are considering manslaughter charges in the Grenfell Tower fire in London, adding that the blaze started in a refrigerator freezer, the BBC reported. >> Read more trending news  The police investigation is focusing on how the fire began, how it spread and who should be held responsible, Detective Chief Superintendent...
Johnny Depp: ‘When was the last time an actor assassinated a president’
Johnny Depp: ‘When was the last time an actor assassinated a president’

Johnny Depp knew his comments to his British audience were going to spark controversy, even as he said them. The actor was speaking to an audience in a British theater Thursday when he made a vague reference to John Wilkes Booth assassinating a president, The Telegraph reported. >> Read more trending news Depp was taking questions at the Cinemageddon...
More Stories