YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Unity Road in Springfield Township has been patched so many times over the years that some spots are more faded in color than others. In the meantime, work continues to pave a stretch of heavily traveled Mahoning Avenue.
The desire to get more road work done across the county prompted members of the local Trustees Association to ask Mahoning County Commissioners to hold public hearings in order to gauge support for a five-year sales tax levy. The measure would be put on the ballot in the fall to pay for road work across the county.
“The point will be there would be paving in our township, hopefully, every single year as opposed to now where it’s not been every year because we haven’t had the money to do that,” said Berlin Township Trustee Jodi Kale,
Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti said his budget, which relies heavily on state gas tax and license plate fees, has been stagnant for decades, and the growing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles doesn’t help.
“If there are fewer cars on the road or more efficient cars buying less gas that makes it more difficult for us,” Ginnetti said.
While projects like Mahoning Avenue take years of planning to obtain needed state and federal grants, less-traveled roads in the townships rarely qualify.
“With us always in the lower end of the scale when it comes to getting opportunities for grants, we’ve always been left in the bottom of the pile,” Kale said.
Trustees say they’d like to add a quarter-percent levy to the county’s sales tax, bringing in roughly $9 million a year, specifically earmarked for road repairs and construction. They claim 40% of what’s collected now comes from people who live outside the county. Trustees admit it will be their job to sell the idea to voters.
“It is going to be our job to go out there. The engineer’s going to come with us and we are going to go around and talk to people,” Carano said.
The public hearings will be held July 19 and 22.