Portage Countians will have three opportunities starting May 22 to learn about a proposal to raise vehicle license fees in most of the county -- and tell county officials what they think.

Two hearings are set for May 22 at 1 p.m. in the commissioners' board room in the county administration building in Ravenna and at 7 p.m. at the county engineer's headquarters, 500 Newton Falls Road, east of Ravenna.

The third hearing will be 7 p.m. May 27 at the engineer's headquarters.

Commissioners can declare an emergency and vote unanimously to enact the increase immediately, eliminating a potential referendum by voters.

They may decline to declare an emergency and raise the fees, or they may put the issue to voters in the fall. If they take either of the first two options, the state must be notified by July 1.

County Engineer Michael Marozzi took the issue to commissioners early this month.

Marozzi has asked commissioners to enact two license fee increases still available to the county by state law. The two $5 hikes would bring in $600,000 to $700,000 more per year, thus doubling the $500,000 in capital improvement funds Marozzi said he has now.

Commissioners must decide if they are going to move forward with the license fee hikes that could affect Aurora residents.

The county has two state statutes it can use to raise license fees by $5 each on licenses in eligible jurisdictions where the $20 maximum hasn't been reached.

A $5 fee could be imposed on licenses in Brady Lake, Garrettsville, Sugar Bush Knolls and Tallmadge and all the townships.

With the second statute, the county could collect on licenses in everywhere except Kent and Hiram, Mantua and Windham villages.

Marozzi said the fee hike is necessary as federal gasoline tax revenues are decreasing.

Email: msever@recordpub.com

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