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

Firefighters help paramedic beat up estranged wife's friend, police say
Firefighters help paramedic beat up estranged wife's friend, police say

Two firefighters and a paramedic are facing charges after authorities accused them of breaking into a home in Eustis, Florida, Monday night and assaulting the people inside. Police said the victim told her husband, the paramedic, that their marriage was over and he had to move out a few weeks ago. Investigators said Michael Amedeo got two of his firefighter...
Southeastern school to start building new gym soon
Southeastern school to start building new gym soon

Southeastern Local Schools in South Charleston would like to start construction on a new gymnasium at its elementary school soon, its superintendent said. “The goal is to get it done by next winter,” Superintendent David Shea said. “That means we need to start construction in the spring.” MORE: Southeastern schools debating...
Killer details brutal murder, final minutes of NY jogger in police video
Killer details brutal murder, final minutes of NY jogger in police video

The accused killer of New York jogger Karina Vetrano was in court Monday, and a videotaped confession detailed the violet final moments of Vetrano’s life as her family listened and sobbed, the New York Post reported. Chanel Lewis, 21, calmly confessed to killing Vetrano on Aug. 2, 2016 in a video that was played during a pre-trial hearing...
Trump supports embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore, ‘He totally denies it’
Trump supports embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore, ‘He totally denies it’

President Donald Trump finally addressed sexual assault and harassment allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore Tuesday while speaking to reporters ahead of his departure for Mar-a-Lago, essentially saying he supports Moore in spite of the accusations. “We don’t need a liberal Democrat in that seat,&rdquo...
$10M sought for U.S. Air Force thermal protection systems
$10M sought for U.S. Air Force thermal protection systems

The U.S. Air Force is developing high speed vehicles and those vehicles need advanced heat protection. University of Dayton Research Institute is seeking $10 million for the total $20 million thermal protection systems development project, and is among dozens of local requesters that want the Dayton Development Coalition to lobby for federal funds...
More Stories