The annual $10 license plate fee proposal in Belmont County was voted down Wednesday at a public hearing. The fee had been proposed to help raise funds to fund renovations to the county's infrastructure. It was voted down by two of the three Belmont County commissioners.
"It looks like Belmont County has the measles."
No, it's not a health crisis. County Engineer Fred Bennett was referring to a map, with a red dot showing every reduced weight limit bridge and closed bridge in the county. He says it's a crisis. So, he's asking for a $10 a year license plate fee.
That comes to 83 cents a month, which breaks down to about three cents a day. Deputy Engineer Mike Wahl says an elderly woman told him she may freeze to death because her home heating oil can no longer be delivered on the aging bridge near her home.
However, the license fee suggestion set off a firestorm in the commission meeting. One man said senior citizens are already unable to make ends meet. He said he can't afford his wife's asthma medicine. But others said ten dollars a year is a small price for safety.
Commissioner Matt Coffland said he's toured the county's bridges, and they are in terrible shape. He said,"I don't know what the answer is, but I can tell you if we do not do something soon, a lot of our paved roads are going back to gravel roads."
At times, voices were raised and gavels were banged, but in the end, no decisions were made.