Ironton City Council adds $5 license plate fee

Published 9:36 am Sunday, July 1, 2018

Goes into effect next year, funds go toward roads

The Ironton City Council voted to put a $5 fee on vehicles and trailers for city residents.

Ordinance 18-11 was untabled at Thursday night’s meeting.

In April, council had considered three ordinances, each of which would put a $5 fee on every vehicle and trailer in Ironton that requires a state license plate.

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The ordinances were given two readings and then tabled to give council members more time to consider the motions.

Councilman Nate Kline asked to have two of the ordinances, 18-11 and 18-12, untabled and voted on. If the ordinance passed, it had to be sent to the state on Friday so it could take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

He also wanted the council to pass the ordinances before the county commissioners could approve the same two fees, because then the money would go to the county coffers and not the city one.

The money would only go to the repair of the city’s roads. It is estimated that the $5 fee would generate about $50,000.

There was about 40 minutes of discussion on the matter before it came to vote.
Vice Mayor Rich Blankenship said that he was going to vote no on the matter for a number of reasons, including that they are considering putting a measure on the ballot to raise municipal fees for the cash-strapped city budget, there were going to be increases in city employee wages and health insurance costs. And he said they are under a federal court order to separate the sewer and water run off lines, and if they don’t, the city will be fined.

“That is the most important thing we can take care of,” he said. “They will fine us, they have before and they are not going to let up. I can’t seeing taxing the people for paving issues when we have a major issue we have to take care of.”

Councilman Chuck O’Leary said he was not for raising anything until there is more development in the city.

Councilman Craig Harvey said this is a fee that only affects those that drive on the city streets.

“It’s a yearly fee,” he said. “The county could enact these fees right under us and then that would be $10 out of your pocket that would not do a single thing for the infrastructure of Ironton.”

Councilman Jim Tordiff said it was more about raising substantial funds. He said he was afraid that if they tried to raise a municipal fee to do economic development or to do more roadwork, that taxpayers would be confused since the license fee was raised.

Councilman Bob Cleary said that a $5 license fee was passed 20 years ago when he was mayor and had consistently put $50,000 into the city coffers. He said he would support one or two increases but not three.

He said that a $5 fee increase would hit his business because he had quite a few vehicles.

“I would just right the check and wouldn’t even think about it if it is a $5 increase but if it was $15, I would feel that,” he said. “$5 is a minimal fee.”

In the end, ordinance 18-11 passed, 4-2 with Blankenship and O’Leary voting against it.
Ordinance 18-12 was untabled, had a third reading and was tabled again. That way, if the city council wants to revisit the issue, they only have to untable it and then vote on it.

The council also approved an ordinance for a $114,300 contract to AFI Sheet Metal, LLC of Huntington, West Virginia, to repair the clarifier launder at the city’s water treatment plant.

A clarifier is used to remove solid material from the water being treated. The solids settle to the bottom of the tank as sludge that is removed and disposed of. The launder is a channel around the treatment tank.

The council will have a finance committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. on July 12 before the regular meeting.