WARREN Council weighs a rise in fees for road repair fund

The city can impose two more $5 fees for vehicle registration.
WARREN -- City council has heard another pitch to increase motor vehicle registration fees and pave the way for future road repairs.
Auditor David Griffing told council's engineering, building and planning committee this week to revisit a proposal he's touted in the past to boost revenues.
The fee is $32.75 ,with $10 going to Warren and the rest to the state.
The city's share is in the form of two $5 levies, each generating about $180,000 per year.
The money is used for maintenance materials, supplies, street resurfacing and traffic control devices.
Griffing said that revenue is used as the city's share to get state and federal matching funds.
A majority of major road projects done recently were funded in large part with state and federal money, the auditor said.
Side streets: "It's the neighborhood streets that really need help now," he explained. "The side streets are what we really need to concentrate on."
Federal Community Development Block Grant money can be used only in low-income areas, Griffing said, pointing out the need for another revenue source to repair streets in other neighborhoods.
A strapped general fund has forced the city to make only temporary road repairs in the last few years.
The city is allowed four $5 fees to be added to registration costs set by the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Another option: "This is just one option," Griffing said. "Or we can assess property owners."
Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd, said property owners can be assessed for repairs to their roads based on the frontage of their property.
The city could also choose to ask that a majority of residents on a given street sign a petition, agreeing to the assessment.
Those who object would take their complaints to a review board of citizens, Novak said.
Tod Avenue was rebuilt in the mid-1990s through the assessment process.
Novak said property owners paid $15 per foot of frontage while the city's now defunct storm water utility division kicked in $5 per foot.
David Robison, the city's director of engineering, also told the committee he's gathering information to see if contractors already registered with the city and licensed by the state can apply and pay for building permits online.
Other cities do this, Robison said, noting that Warren will have to get credit card companies on board so payment can be accepted online.
Loses out: The city loses out on revenue when state-licensed contractors are caught working in the city without permits, Robison said.
Because of this, he said, he's trying to find out whether the city in this case can recommend the state suspend that contractor's license for a specific period of time.

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