The increase in Ohio’s gas tax has been approved after a long stalemate with House and Senate votes. Legislators decided on 10.5 cents a gallon for gas and 19 cents for diesel.
For officials representing Union County at the state level, the vote was difficult but necessary.
Rep. Tracy Richardson said she was initially against the increase but went into meetings hoping to better understand what this increase would do for local communities.
“I learned that the need for some increase was vital for helping to address serious concerns regarding our roads and bridges,” Richardson said. “The motor fuel tax is constitutionally designed to raise revenues specifically for maintaining and improving roads and bridges.”
The increase, proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine, initially called for as much as 18 cents per gallon for gas and the tax would be used to cover more than $500 million for road and bridge repairs around the state. The gas and diesel tax is expected to generate more than $800 million a year—45% of which will go directly to counties, cities and townships, Richardson said.
She was disappointed in a number of things about the tax from the higher number on diesel to the fact that the change will not be gradual.
“The argument there was that the heavy trucks passing through Ohio on our interstates would bear more responsibility for the wear and tear on our roads that they cause due to their weight,” Richardson said. She added she also hoped the increase would be phased in over time. “We will be receiving more local dollars to help fix our roads and bridges and the increase at the pump will be significantly less than what the governor and the Ohio Department of Transportation requested.”
Richardson also said the state will have to look for new ways to handle funding in the future.
“The truth is that we have newer innovations in technology leading to less consumption of fuel,” she said. “Over time, all of these conditions will lead to a decrease in revenues needed for our road and bridge infrastructure.”
Sen. David Burke agreed the decision to increase was difficult saying he’s “not happy but satisfied” with the change.
“As much as I’m usually working to lower taxes, this was a necessary move,” Burke said. “If we had to do it, this time around we’ve expedited it to something that actually pertains to roads.”
Burke said the hope is that this increase is something they will only have to visit every 10-15 years.
The last increase came in 2005.
“We looked at studies that showed us non-gas related taxes and other ways to avoid costs,” Burke said. “In reality, we have a five-fold increase in vehicles on the roads in the next few years so we need something that takes that into consideration.”
According to a report from ODOT, the current 28 cents per gallon would generate $770,472 for the City of Marysville, but the new tax would increase that number to about $1,252,000 in 2020.
The report also shows that other municipalities in the county could see increases in the range of $50-60,000.
“While I’m not thrilled we had to do this, the help that will come from the revenue is significant,” Burke said. “If we only have to touch this issue every decade and a half, we’re doing okay.”
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