Swancreek Twp. mulls permissive taxes

By David J. Coehrs - dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com

Swancreek Township trustees held the second of two public hearings Tuesday on possibly adopting two permissive license taxes, but only one person showed up.

Yet Trustee Travis Weigel was informed that griping about the potential taxes was expressed on social media.

“I’ve heard there were people that were complaining,” he said.

Following the required public hearings, the township will decide whether to adopt the permissive taxes, one available since 1987, the other authorized by Ohio legislators in July 0f 2019. They’re two of 11 permissive license taxes the state can permit townships and municipalities to collect from residents annually – though only a few of the taxes at a time – through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The two $5 taxes Swancreek Township is considering would be collected in tandem with three permissive taxes of equal value adopted by Fulton County commissioners in the 1960s and 1980s, for a total cost per resident of $25 per year. The township would not begin collecting the permissive taxes until 2021. Both would generate about $50,000 a year, and would be used to fund road, bridge, and drainage projects.

The proposal now goes to the Fulton County Engineer’s Office for approval. It then must be approved by trustees before being forwarded to the state by July 1.

“If we didn’t collect on it, we’d lose out on it,” Weigel said.

County Engineer Frank Onweller said some of the state’s permissive taxes are split 70/30 between the county and the township. In the case of two of the 11 taxes, one from the 1980s and one the state approved last year, revenue can be kept entirely by the township imposing it. At present, the county’s Amboy and Gorham townships collect the tax from the ’80s.

“It’s solely for their use and benefit. The county has no involvement,” Onweller said.

Clinton Township also collects a permissive license tax, generating about $8,800 annually.

Weigel said he knows residents are concerned about paying new taxes, but that the single person who attended both public hearings is a poor indicator. He said people apparently prefer to give their opinions on Facebook and other social media sites, which isn’t as effective.

“The residents had the opportunity, and we encourage our residents,” he said. “They need to come to those public meetings. That’s the way to hear our residents. Come to a meeting. Let your voice be heard. That’s what it’s all about.”

By David J. Coehrs