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Montgomery County drivers could pay more as result of new state law

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 10:19 AM


            Montgomery County drivers could pay more if an additional $5 tax is approved. A state law changed to allow the additional fee, which would generate about $2 million for local roads and bridges. Here, drivers find themselves in a crawl all the way from downtown to the Edwin C. Moses Boulevard interchange. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
            Chris Stewart
Montgomery County drivers could pay more if an additional $5 tax is approved. A state law changed to allow the additional fee, which would generate about $2 million for local roads and bridges. Here, drivers find themselves in a crawl all the way from downtown to the Edwin C. Moses Boulevard interchange. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF(Chris Stewart)

Motor vehicle registration and renewal costs in Montgomery County may go up another $5 beginning in 2019 because of a tax proposal to help pay for future road and bridge work.

The tax could generate about $2 million a year for the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office through use of a new law in the state transportation budget that passed in March and allows counties to add the fee to pay for project planning and improvements.

RELATED: Ohio offers a whopping 269 specialty license plates

Montgomery County Administrator Joe Tuss said the engineer’s office is expected to submit the plan next month.

“This is something that is sorely needed in this community. Those dollars will be devoted to the road and bridge infrastructure needs,” Tuss said.

The soonest the new fee could hit vehicle owners is January 2019. More than 518,000 vehicles are registered in the county, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

MORE: Keowee Street detours delayed, but bridge will close for almost 2 years

Montgomery County has 541 bridges and 320 miles of roadway, some not in the best shape, said Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.

“None of the roads are in a condition I’d like them to be in,” he said. “Our real income over the last 25 years has increased less than 10 percent, while all of the costs of everything we buy, including asphalt, has more than doubled … That’s the fight we are up against.”

MORE: Roads and bridges falling apart, but cost goes unfunded

Phil Parker, president and CEO of Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the new tax will likely be supported by chamber members — especially in a local economy heavy on manufacturing and logistics — because the funds will be directly invested on bridge and road projects that will provide a return to the community.

“No one likes extra taxes, no one likes extra fees,” Parker said. “If we ask for a fee increase but designate it for improvements to the transportation infrastructure, I think much of the business community will look at it and say that’s not a waste.”

MORE: Ohio road construction projects to cost $2.3B

Most vehicle owners in the county already pay permissive motor vehicle license taxes of $20, which was the limit until the new law took effect in June. If the county commission approves the measure next year, the additional taxes would climb to $25 for many.

The base cost for passenger vehicle registrations is $34.50 annually before tacking on the permissive taxes, which can vary between counties and even by municipalities within the same county if a local government has levied the tax.

Montgomery County vehicle owners in Jefferson Twp., Moraine, New Lebanon, Phillipsburg, Vandalia and Verona currently pay only three of the $5 incremental levies.

EARLIER: Ohio Senate votes to allow $5 license plate fee increase

The new tax would apply to all vehicle types except for concrete pumps and concrete conveyors, Gruner said. There are also exceptions for some federal, state and local government vehicles and those owned by veterans under certain circumstances.

Two Ohio counties have already approved the fee and will begin collecting it in the 2019 registration year, according to the BMV.

Montgomery County road and bridge projects are financed with a share of fuel tax revenue, the federal Highway Trust Fund and motor vehicle registration fees.

Operations within the county engineer’s office are largely funded through the basic motor vehicle licensing tax, which will provide about $5.2 million of the office’s $14 million 2018 budget. Existing permissive license taxes will account for $4.2 million, and fuel taxes will add $2.3 million, according to county records.

Two public hearings are required before the provision can be voted on by the Montgomery County Commission.

Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:43 AM


            The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.
The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

Fire Chief Scott Hines, the department’s only paid employee, resigned on Jan. 2 after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

“They left us with a skeleton crew,” Trustee David Crisenbery said this morning.

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The township, home to about 1,500 residents, is on the south side of Caesar Creek Lake. The department handles emergency calls from the lake.

Since Hines’ resignation, fire and emergency calls are being handled by the remaining department along with mutual aid from fire departments in Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County.

The trustees are also weighing creating a joint fire district with Chester Twp. with new levies supporting the operation.

“That is the goal,” Trustee Daryl McKinney said.

MORE: Coach boating with daughter drowns in Caesar Creek Lake

A larger district qualifies for more grants, McKinney said.

The Massie Twp department operates on a $92,000 budget from two levies.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. to build $2.5 million fire station

Crisenbery said the township could seek an additional local levy to fund part-time paid firefighters. Also, Hines’ replacement could be picked, Crisenbery added.

“Anything’s possible tonight,” Crisenbery said. “All options, I feel, should be on the table.”

Hines said he was working with the Village of Harveysburg on creating a fire department, taking over fire and ambulance services within its municipal limits within Massie Twp.

He accused Trustee Mark Dawson of “micromanaging” him for more than two years.

“I just got tired of it,” he said.

Dawson said Hines was the subject of two internal investigations which provided 11 grounds for his removal.

“It is our responsibility to address the issues,” he said. “I call it doing the job we’re appointed to.”

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the township fire station, 10 N. Harveysburg Road.

Lawmaker Jeff Rezabek won’t run for re-election to Ohio House

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 4:25 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, announces he will run for  Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Judge instead of seeking re-election to his 43rd House seat. JIM OTTE/Staff
State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, announces he will run for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Judge instead of seeking re-election to his 43rd House seat. JIM OTTE/Staff

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, announced today that he will not seek re-election and will instead run for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Juvenile division judge.

His decision will likely lead to one of the hottest Statehouse races in the region as the Ohio 43rd is one of the most evenly divided politically in the Dayton area.

Among those expressing interest are Clayton Councilman Kenny Henning, a Republican, who says he’ll run, and Democrats Ralph Dean Brill of Brookville, who has taken out nominating petitions from the Montgomery County Board of Elections; and Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley.

RELATED: Dan Foley won’t run again for Montgomery County commission

Foley did not respond to requests for comment but is interested in running, according to Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. Foley earlier said that he would not seek re-election to the county commission.

Dan Foley, Montgomery County commissioner, speaks at the Engineers Club in Dayton. FILE(Staff Writer)

Owens said he has also discussed the 43rd House race with other possible candidates but declined to say who they are.

‘We made an impact’

Rezabek said he wants to use his experience as a lawyer and a legislator to bring change to the court.

“We made an impact in the legislature,” he said. “But the real impact is directly on the community and directly with those kids and with those families.”

RELATED: Rezabek bill would give judges more say on trying juveniles as adults

Rezabek, an attorney specializing in juvenile cases, is running for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Juvenile Judge Nick Kuntz, who cannot run for re-election due to age limitations for judges.

The race for Kuntz’s seat has attracted a lot of attention, with at least five other people taking out nominating petitions.

They include Democrats Julie Bruns of Miamisburg, Greg Scott of Dayton, Steven Wagenfeld of Centerville and Cynthia L. Westwood of Farmersville. Republican C. Ralph Wilcoxson II has also obtained a petition.

Rezabek ran unsuccessfully for the job in 2012. First elected to the Ohio House in 2014, he won a bitter re-election battle in 2016 against David Sparks of Clayton.

RELATED: Race for 43rd House district has turned ugly

Henning said he will make the formal announcement that he is running for the seat at an 11:30 a.m. news conference Friday at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center’s adult center, 6801 Hoke Road, Clayton.

RELATED: Donald Trump is the new president and local residents saw it happen in person

“I’m 100 percent invested in the community and I want to ensure that our 43rd House district has a strong champion to advocate for the district in Columbus.” said Henning, who is a judicial assistant to Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Erik Blaine.

Kenny Henning, Clayton councilman(Staff Writer)

A Clayton native who has served on the council since 2012, Henning said his campaign will focus on farming and agriculture, the concerns of small business owners and trying to restore Local Government Fund revenue slashed by the legislature. He said he also wants to address the opioid addiction crisis.

The filing deadline for the May 8 primary is Feb. 7.

Owens said the 43rd House district is about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and can be won by a Democrat like Foley.

“If he’s willing to get out and roll up his sleeves and work I think he can win it,” Owens said.

The district covers parts of Englewood, Clayton, Trotwood, western Montgomery County and all of Preble County.

RELATED: Ohio could have two redistricting proposals on ballots this year

County commission

Multiple people have pulled petitions to run for Foley’s county commission seat. Democrats include Montgomery County Treasurer Carolyn Rice and Daryl Ward, senior pastor of Omega Baptist Church in Dayton.

RELATED: Candidates seek to replace Foley on Montgomery County commission

Both Rice and Ward have turned in their nominating petitions.

Republicans include former Miami Twp. Trustee Bob Matthews and current Miami Twp. Trustee Doug Barry, both of whom have turned in petitions. Petitions have been obtained but not submitted by Greg Hart and Joshua Smith, both Dayton Republicans.

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

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U.S. Senate candidates Renacci and Brown spar over Trump’s comment about immigrants

Husted wants new voting machines in every county in Ohio

Clayton pushing to make public more aware that golf club is city owned

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:04 AM


            The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The city of Clayton took over ownership of Meadowbrook Country Club, now Meadowbrook at Clayton, in 2015 after it was donated to the city by Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC. City officials are reviewing marketing efforts for the facility. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Clayton officials are trying to figure out how to market a golf course and banquet space donated to the city three years ago.

City council will hold a workshop on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how to make the public more aware of Meadowbrook at Clayton, which includes a golf course, banquet center and swimming pools.

Meadowbrook was privately-owned until it was donated to the city in April 2015. Since then, the city has been trying to figure out how best to market the banquet space and golf course to the Miami Valley.

The workshop, in council chambers at 6996 Taywood Rd., is open to the public but no public input will be accepted at that time, said City Clerk Barbara Seim.

“This is just an ideas and information session, there’s no action item, no voting,” Seim said.

Meadowbrook staff will present to city council current marketing efforts as well as what they hope to do in the future.

“It’s great that they want our input,” Bill Williams, director of golf at Meadowbrook said.

After the workshop, members of the community can stay to comment or share ideas during the city council meeting that follows at 7 p.m.

The city is placing an emphasis on marketing Meadowbrook because many don’t know they have access to the golf course and banquet hall now, city officials said.

“We were private for so long that people don’t realize we’re public now,” Williams said.

Larry and Tina Harris of LGH Properties LLC donated Meadowbrook Country Club, a 171-acre club, to the city. The property consists of a 65,000 square-foot banquet center, clubhouse, Olympic-sized pool, baby pool, driving range and 18-hole golf course.

Clayton City Manager Rick Rose has “really taken the lead” on promoting the Meadowbrook, according to Williams.

“Since it was a donation to the city, we didn’t have a department to take it over, so as city manager I’ve just taken it upon myself to make sure it succeeds,” Rose said. “We are a small city and it is a group effort of employees and elected officials.”

According to Rose in 2016, the first full year the city owned Meadowbrook, its revenues were $483,203 plus an additional $252,000 in transfers from the general fund. The following year’s revenues were $507,481. Transfers from the general fund were $162,480.

“In general, cities spend somewhere between 2 and 11 percent of their general fund budget to supplement their parks and recreation facilities. Clayton is on track to be in the five percent range,” Rose said.

Rose said the goal of the workshop is to discuss different directions the city could go with marketing. He hopes the change in marketing will increase direct revenues and lessen general fund transfers.

He wants to encourage the public to play on the golf course and get word out about all the different events the banquet center can be used for. The ultimate goal is to increase golf outings and rentals of the banquet center.

Meadowbrook currently uses social media for marketing but the city is hoping to “change it up.”

“We want to broaden our reach and put in the minds of everyone that (Meadowbrook) is open to the public,” Rose said. “Meadowbrook at Clayton is not just a golf course and banquet facility but also a place to hold public events and bring our community together.”

In addition to the marketing, the city is upgrading and remodeling parts of the building, another change they hope to finish this year..

Fire department back in place in Warren County township

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:00 AM


            The Massie Twp. Fire Department has a new chief, Donald Fuguate, and is back in operation.
The Massie Twp. Fire Department has a new chief, Donald Fuguate, and is back in operation.

The Massie Twp. Fire Department is back in business.

On Tuesday night, the township trustees picked Donald Fugate to succeed Fire Chief Scott Hines, who resigned on Jan. 2.

RELATED: Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Fugate was the captain reporting to Hines, the only paid member of the volunteer department.

Hines resigned after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

Emergency medical service - handled through mutual aid with Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County - still has to be returned to the department, Trustee David Crisenbery said.

“We’re checking protocols seeing how quick we can get our EMS back on,” Crisenbery said.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. announces fire department promotions

The trustees also plan to move ahead with forming a joint district with Chester Twp.