Brookfield imposes license plate tax

BROOKFIELD – An additional $5 license plate fee was approved unanimously by township trustees Thursday evening after a second public hearing to discuss the permissive tax.

The tax will go into effect at the beginning of 2014 and will require residents to pay $5 more for the plates on their vehicles or trailers.

The annual state registration renewal fee is $34.50 for passenger cars before any local permissive taxes are added.

Brookfield Road Supervisor Jaime Fredenburg estimates that the total revenue brought by the permissive tax will hover around $40,000 a year, depending on the number of registrations.

The money will be used for maintenance and repair of roadways, and will supplement the $310,000 current road fund. Fredenburg said the fund has provided enough money to plow snow in the winter and fill in potholes, but is not sufficient for paving.

“We didn’t pave at all last year,” he said.

According to Fredenburg, it costs about $100,000 to pave a single mile of roadway 2 to 3 inches thick.

He also noted that five other Trumbull County townships have license plate fees – Champion, Hubbard, Liberty, Newton and Weathersfield.

A dozen residents turned up to hear about the tax’s logistics and to voice their concerns.

“My suggestion would be why not put it on the ballot and let the people vote on it,” Dan Suttles said.

Suttles expressed his disapproval with the tax during the public comment period. He said he believes the trustees are enacting a tax without the agreement of the people and would prefer to see the issue on an upcoming ballot.

“I just think it is the wrong way of doing it,” he said.

Fredenburg said he believes this is the only tax that trustees are permitted to impose without a vote of the people.

Trustee Phil Schmidt referred to the Ohio Revised Code, saying that the township is mandated to take care of the roadways and could be held liable for any accidents that might occur due to poor maintenance. This he said could possibly bankrupt the township.

“The state said we ‘shall’ do this,” Schmidt said.

Several residents chimed in with current road concerns that they said are not being met.

“We live on a road that is not recognized,” Patricia Booty said.

Her husband, Chuck Booty, stood to speak about poor road conditions where they live, resulting in their home flooding. The couple believe they live on the “undesirable side” of Brookfield and thus will not benefit from the increased revenue in the road department fund.

“We’re not important enough to get our stuff fixed,” Paticia said.