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Lisbon plans $5 hike in vehicle license tax

LISBON — Village council agreed last week to begin the process of enacting a $5 motor vehicle license tax.

The motion to approve the increase on first reading was passed by 6-0 vote. The increase will need to be approved on two more separate readings to meet the July 30 deadline. If passed, the increase would take effect in January.

Ohioans already pay an annual vehicle registration/license plate fee of $34.50, plus another $15 to $20 on average in what are called permissive taxes. Lisbon currently receives $2.50 per vehicle, which would increase to $7.50 if the legislation passes.

The measure was introduced by Councilman Ryan Berg as a way to generate additional money for street maintenance at a time when village revenue is expected to take a hit because of the government response to the COVID-19 virus. The tax is expected to generate an additional $12,000 a year, and it can only be spent on street maintenance, not salaries.

Although they voted for the measure, councilwomen Susan Temple and Linda Donnalley expressed their reservations. They feel residents have already been asked to do enough in recent years by passing a 0.5 percent increase in the village income tax, which took effect this year, followed by an increase in water rates.

Mayor Peter Wilson agreed, which is why he may veto the legislation if it passes.

“If it comes to me I will veto it. Lisbon voters have been very generous to us in passing a fire levy two years ago and an income tax increase last year,” he said. “I think we’re asking too much of the village residents, especially now in these economic times.”

In a cost-cutting move, council voted to terminate its contract with Town Center Associates, the consulting firm that specializes in helping small towns revitalize downtown business districts.

“It was an economic decision” based on the village’s uncertain financial future, Wilson said.

Council had contracted with the Beaver, Pa., company for the past several years, and the cost for 2020 would be $7,500, with the Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce paying half. The contract has a 60-day cancellation clause, which council voted to exercise.

Lisbon’s new vacant building ordinance was patterned after one by TCA, which also helped strengthen the village’s building maintenance laws. TCA also maintained an interactive website that prospective businesses could visit to determine which buildings were vacant, who are the owners, if they were for rent or sale, and if there are any violations.

The chamber’s Susan Shank said she did not think the website was being used much, and the chamber performs much the same function, as does village zoning/building inspector Zach Barkley.

In other business, Mayor Wilson told council the man who wants to raise chickens in town has begun circulating petitions asking council to repeal the existing law that currently prohibits it.

Since council was first made aware of the petition effort in April, police Chief Mike Abraham learned there is one resident in town with chickens, and he wanted guidance on how he should proceed in enforcing the law.

Councilman Jerry Cox does not feel there should be chickens in town, and Council President Dawn Thomas said if it is permitted it should be tightly regulated.

Council advised Abraham to hold off citing the person until they see if anything comes of the petition drive.

Council also promoted the following part-time police officers to full-time status on Abraham’s recommendation: Neil Clark and Alyssa Perry. This brings the department to its desired complement of 10 full-time officers.

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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