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Falls tax puts highest pricetag on license plates

WARREN — If Newton Falls council decides to implement another $5 tax on vehicles registered to an address in the community, it will make the village the most expensive place in Trumbull County to register a vehicle.

Drivers in Newton Falls already pay four extra $5 fees on top of the $34.50 fee charged by the state, or $54.50. Village council is considering adding a fifth, so drivers would have to pay $25 to the village when registering a vehicle, taking the cost up to nearly $60 for vehicle owners.

Ohio law allows up to six, $5 fees to be tacked onto the cost of registration in any one taxing district. It’s called a permissive tax, and the money collected must be used on roadways.

Cities and villages, townships and counties are allowed to implement the tax. Trumbull County does not have the tax, but 14 communities in it do.

The village would need to approve the additional tax by July 1 for it to kick in by January, according to information about the tax on the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website.

The maximum tax was $20, or up to four separate fees, until state lawmakers in April 2019 approved a bill expanding the cap to six, or $30 in any given tax district.

Only Newton Falls and Warren capped out at the former limit of $20. Cortland, Girard and Niles vehicle owners pay $15; Hubbard, McDonald and West Farmington drivers pay $10; and Brookfield, Champion, Hubbard Township, Liberty, Newton and Weathersfield vehicle owners pay $5.

While residents who virtually attended a Newton Falls council meeting last week were against the idea of adding the tax, village officials estimated it could generate an additional $20,000 for a road fund that only has $51,000 in it.

Fiscal officer Anna Musson said all street paving is postponed because of the low balance.

Councilman John Baryak, however, questioned the move.

“People are not working right now, and this would only generate around $21,000. How much paving can we do with that?” Baryak said. “We are not going to nickel and dime people for $5. This is not going to happen because people are hurting.”

Musson argued the voters haven’t approved levies to fund road work, so the village lacks the money it needs to pave.

Before the pandemic struck, limiting the number of new vehicle registrations, the village was generating about $8,000 per month, sometimes a bit lower or higher, from its four permissive taxes, according to a database on the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s BMV website.

That adds up to about $100,000 per year.

Warren generates about $45,000 to $60,000 per month with the tax and Niles about $20,000 per month. Communities with a $5 or $10 tax generate less, around $7,000 per month for Hubbard and between $3,000 and $5,000 per month in Weathersfield.

Trumbull County hasn’t implemented the tax, but Mahoning County used it to generate $164,000 in December, $201,000 in January, $154,000 in February, $126,000 in March and $71,000 in April, according to the database.

The searchable databases can be found at https://services.dps.ohio.gov/TaxDistribution/Pages/Public/MainMenu.aspx.

The money can be used directly for projects or as local matching funds to secure grants.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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