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Madison Township residents will pay $5 more for license plates

WEST POINT — Madison Township residents will begin paying an extra $5 when they purchase their license plates next year.

The township trustees voted at a recent meeting to enact a motor vehicle license tax, which takes effect Jan. 1, with the extra $25,000 it is expected to generate going strictly for road maintenance.

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. Madison Township currently receives $5 per vehicle, which would increase to $10 in 2021.

Wayne Chamberlain, chairman of the township board of trustees, said the state legislature passed a law allowing villages and townships to enact the $5 fee to give them another way to raise revenue. The trustees decided to take advantage of the law instead of seeking a levy, and the deadline for enacting the fee in time for 2021 is July 30.

He said the township has two or three road levies, and the most recent one was passed in the 1980s. Faced with a growing need for additional road funds, the trustees tried unsuccessfully to get a new levy passed twice in the 2010s but voters turned them down.

“We talked about it for a while and debated it, the pros and cons, before deciding on this,” Chamberlain said.

As a property owner, Chamberlain said he would rather pay the fee than see an increase in his property taxes.

“It’s tough to get a property tax increased, and I understand that because I’m a property owner too,” he said. “People already said no twice, so I don’t agree with beating them over the head with something.”

Chamberlain believes township residents would prefer this over a levy, although he knows some will be displeased with what they have done.

“I like it because the burden isn’t just on the property owners … and $5 is a lot cheaper than what a levy would be,” he said.

Like most townships in Columbiana County, Chamberlain said Madison Township has limited means and few ways to raise additional revenue.

“We’re trying to work with the budget we have the best we can,” he said.

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