WILMINGTON — There may be a push for new state legislation to limit the revenue losses in counties where trucking firms register their vehicles in other jurisdictions.
Clinton County Engineer Jeff Linkous updated Clinton County commissioners Monday on an ongoing research project, under the sponsorship of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), on how to deal with problems related to commercial trucking registration and the distribution of that revenue.
In 2008, R+L Carriers moved its International Registration Plan (IRP) truck registrations from Clinton County to Indiana. According to an August 2015 report prepared for ODOT — part of the research project — that action has cost the county millions in IRP revenues.
One idea the researchers are exploring is changing a distribution formula as it is applied to what’s called the annual excess IRP compensation. Since Ohio joined IRP, there have always been leftover out-of-state IRP funds, the report stated.
If this formula change were to occur — it would require a change in state law — it would help Clinton County, Linkous said.
The researchers have started working to find out how a formula change would impact the recipients of the leftover funds. The change would hurt some counties and help others, said Linkous.
“We’re unique in having a large trucking company in our county that is registering in Indiana. But they [ODOT] want to look at this as a whole state,” said the Clinton County engineer.
Another thing being looked into, Linkous said, is how to legislatively give incentives for Ohio-based carriers to register in the state.
So, if there’s to be a change that helps Clinton County, it may come out of the Statehouse.
“As we move forward, this may take [state] legislation. And that’s why I want to keep your support, because it may take going to our state representative. And he’s been very helpful,” Linkous said to commissioners. Clinton County’s state representative is Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger.
Clinton County Commissioner President Mike Curry told Linkous that the commissioners are “on board” with going after the trucking registration dollars to repair and maintain roads and bridges in Clinton County.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said he applauds Linkous for continuing to work on the matter.
The R+L Carriers’ designated spokesperson will be difficult to reach this week for possible comment, an office associate said Monday.
In a previous News Journal story on the topic, the company stated it moved its IRP licensing because it was easier for the company to register online, and there were significant cost savings associated with registering the plates in Indiana.
The researchers’ August 2015 report stated, “According to a 2014 estimate assembled by the Tax Distribution Section of the ODPS [Ohio Department of Public Safety], Clinton County has lost an estimated $2.6 million a year in IRP distribution revenue. Our estimate is even higher, at $3.13 million. The difference is based on the assumptions made in the methodology of both estimates.”
The same report also stated that if out-of-state registrations were “repatriated,” the potential revenue for the 2015 through 2019 forecast period would be $16.9 million — a potential difference of more than $16 million to Clinton County during that five-year period.
The report added, “A shift of this magnitude would dramatically change the outlook for county road maintenance and enhancements in Clinton County.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.