Gas tax for Ohio begins

LISBON — While you were asleep Sunday night, gas stations around Ohio were raising prices by 10.5 cents per gallon.

Starting Monday, the state gasoline tax increased from 28 cents per gallon to 38.5 cents, while the cost of diesel fuel jumped by 19 cents to 47 cents per gallon. The increases, which took effect July 1, were approved by the state legislature in March and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine.

A portion of the gas tax goes to counties based on a formula. The amount received by cities and village is based on the number of vehicles registered within its corporation limits, while the portion that goes to townships is based on vehicle registration and miles of roads. All county engineers receive the same flat amount. regardless of vehicles and miles of roads.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the cities, villages and townships currently receive a combined $3.26 million, per year, which will increase to an estimated $5.03 million in 2020 with the extra gas tax dollars. The Columbiana County Engineer’s Office will see its share of the gas tax increase from $2.43 million to an estimated $4 million next year.

The last increase in the state gas tax was 2005. “I want to say it’s much appreciated because our costs have gone up since the last increase,” said county Engineer Bert Dawson. “It’s more of a catch up.”

The gas tax, along with the portion of the state license plate tax, are the two major sources of funding for the engineer’s office, but the amounts have remained relatively unchanged for the past 10 years or so. As a result, Dawson eliminated about 20 positions as employees quit or retired, leaving him with a staff of 39.

While Dawson may hire a few more employees, he expects most of the additional gas tax funds will be used to resurface and maintain more miles of roads. He said it now costs $120,000 to $140,000 per mile to resurface a road using asphalt, or blacktop, and it keeps rising.

“That’s one thing we’ll be able to do more of,” Dawson said the asphalt program. “Plus, we can continue to help townships with their roads.”

Under the county’s township resurfacing program, the townships pay for the material and the engineer’s office does the work. Township roads are resurfaced with chip/seal, which is one-fifth the cost of asphalt.

Dawson said equipment costs also continue to escalate. Four recently purchaae trucks with snow plows cost nearly $500,000.

“There’s a cost associated with all that,” he said.

Ohio’s gas tax is lower than Pennsylvania (58.7 cents) and Indiana (40 cents) but higher than Michigan (36.7 cents), Kentucky (26 cents) and West Virginia (35.7 percent).

The federal gasoline tax is 18.4 cents.

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