Gas tax benefits to local communities

Gov. Mike DeWine signed the $8.5 million state transportation budget into law earlier this month which includes a gas tax increase to help fund road and infrastructure repairs. The increased tax should bring much-needed revenue to local governments as well, according to Moreland Hills Mayor Susan Renda, who also serves as the president of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association.

Communities statewide will benefit from the increase including those in Cuyahoga and Geauga counties.

The tax will increase by 10.5 cents per gallon on regular gas and 19 cents per gallon for diesel gas on July 1, according to the Ohio Municipal League. Both taxes currently are 28 cents per gallon. The new tax is expected to raise an additional $865 million annually.

“People really understand the need for infrastructure improvements,” Mayor Renda said. “We only hope this is enough to get it done.”

Currently, the state receives 60 percent of the revenue from the gas tax while local governments receive 40 percent. With the new transportation budget, the state will receive 55 percent of the revenue and local governments will receive 45 percent, according to the Ohio Municipal League.

The Ohio Department of Transportation estimated that the gas tax increase will bring Moreland Hills an additional $78,000 per year for road and infrastructure improvements. Other municipalities will also receive a significant increase, including Pepper Pike collecting an additional $139,000 and Bainbridge receiving an additional $122,000, according to ODOT.

At the February mayors and city managers association meeting, the mayors and managers unanimously passed a resolution in support of Gov. DeWine’s proposed increase in the gas tax.

Mayor Renda asked members of the association to lobby state legislators to support the tax increase. She reached out to state Rep. Phil Robinson, D-Solon, and state Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, for support. Mayors Karen Schneider of Gates Mills and Brenda Bodnar of Mayfield Village visited Columbus recently to discuss budget issues with local representatives.

Mayor Renda explained that Moreland Hills spends more than $1 million annually on infrastructure projects, and a significant portion of that goes to the road program.

“Our budget has been tight in the last few years. Any help we can get in infrastructure projects is greatly appreciated,” she said. “I feel like if you build something, you have to figure out how to maintain it.”

Revenue from the gas tax goes into two funds, according to Mayor Renda, namely the street maintenance fund and the highway fund. The highway fund is used for state routes such as Route 91 and Route 87.

Mayor Renda said that some of this revenue also goes to the Local Transportation Infrastructure Program, which is a competitive grant program. LTIP is a state program administered locally, and municipalities apply for funding for road and infrastructure projects through this program, the mayor said.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Pepper Pike, Orange and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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