Now that Ohio lawmakers have approved raising the gasoline tax by 10.5 cents per gallon, officials in area communities are happy they will receive more money to repair and maintain roads.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed the two-year state transportation budget April 10 to increase the gas tax by 10.5 cents per gallon to 38.5 cents, and the diesel tax by 19 cents to 47 cents a gallon effective July 1.
Statewide, local government gas tax funding under the delayed transportation budget will increase by $366 million, or 56 percent, to slightly more than $1 billion in 2020.
All told, the tax increases and additional registration fees of $200 on electric vehicles and $100 on hybrids will raise $865 million more a year, with the state keeping about $500 million.
A budget provision awarded 45 percent of the revenue from the newly increased taxes to local governments, which still will retain a 40 percent share of the revenue raised by the current gas and diesel tax rates.
The state keeps 60 percent of the current fuel taxes.
Among Portage County local governments, Streetsboro will receive the most additional money — an increase of $409,003 to bring the total to $1.06 million the first year — while Aurora is next at $385,396 ($1 million total).
"Gov. DeWine made a bold attempt to raise the tax even more," said Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin. "I figured his original proposal would be much reduced, and I think it was a good compromise.
"My position is I don’t like to see taxes raised, but any additional money for the care of our roads will be helpful. We have more than 200 lane miles of roads to take care of."
The mayor said the city recently put together its bid package for 2019 road repaving, with $1 million set aside. It generally designates $800,000 to $1.2 million for resurfacing.
Womer Benjamin said eight roads are on this year’s list, with Aurora-Hudson being the biggest single project at nearly $500,000. "The extra $385,000 we’ll get from the gas tax hike will allow us to add some roads next year," she said.
The mayor said an outside consultant rated the city’s roads a few years ago, and those evaluations, plus considering the effect winter has on roads, are used to determine which roads will be repaved.
Meanwhile, Kent will receive $359,798 more ($935,152 total) and Ravenna will get $218,674 more ($568,357 total).
Kent Deputy Service Director James Bowling said the city has been investing "record amounts" in road and infrastructure in the past five years, and welcomes the extra money from the state.
"Roads are certainly a high priority for us," he said. "When our budget process starts later this year, the administration will look at where the extra money can best be spent."
Ravenna Service Director Kay Dubinsky said the city welcomes the extra money and will put it into its budget for general street department work. "It’s great that some extra money is coming our way," she said.
Garrettsville stands to get $54,701 more for a total of $142,174; Windham $30,293 more ($78,735); Hiram $7,984 more ($20,752); and Sugar Bush Knolls $5,172 more ($13,441).
Although Mantua Village will receive only $33,301 more from the gas tax — for a total of $86,553 — Village Administrator John Trew said every little bit helps.
"Paving roads is very expensive," he said. "$33,000 more won’t go far, but we welcome anything we can get from the state."
Trew said the village doesn’t have a specific project in mind to use the extra money for.
"It helps with crack sealing, and we can fund at least a portion of a street repaving project," he explained. "I wish the governor’s original [higher] increase would have passed, but we’ll do the best we can with the $33,000 we’re getting."
Of Portage County’s townships, Brimfield will get the most additional money — $91,528 ($206,282 total) — with Rootstown getting $74,394 more ($177,193) and Suffield getting $65,676 more ($162,393).
As for the county itself, Portage will receive $4 million, the same amount all 88 Ohio counties will get. That is an increase of $1.5 million (63 percent).
The transportation budget also more than doubles state funding for public transit, increasing it from $33 million to $70 million per year.
The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story.