Public hearing May 8 for Luzerne County’s proposed $5 vehicle fee

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -
Luzerne County Courthouse -

A public hearing on Luzerne County’s proposed $5 vehicle fee has been scheduled for May 8 at the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre, an online calendar posting shows.

The hearing will be held at 5:45 p.m. in the council meeting room.

County council may vote on the fee at a meeting following the public hearing.

The fee on 281,000 vehicles would yield an estimated $1.4 million annually to repair county-owned roads and bridges. The state will match up to $2 million to fix bridges in each county with a $5 fee, but only once.

A public hearing is required before the vote because the fee must be implemented by ordinance.

Seven of 11 council members voted last month to introduce the ordinance.

Councilman Robert Schnee, one of the seven, has said he will propose an amendment that would end the fee if the state stops providing a match.

Several council fee supporters said they do not want to miss an opportunity to obtain the state match, particularly when needed repairs far exceed available funding.

Critics have argued the fee is too burdensome and unfairly forces vehicle owners countywide to pay more for infrastructure in other municipalities.

A review of records shows the county’s 125.3 miles of roads pass through 22 of its 76 municipalities, all townships.

In comparison, the 302 county-owned bridges are in 30 townships, six boroughs and two cities — Nanticoke and Pittston, records show.

Council also will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. the same night on a proposed $249,389 budget reserve transfer needed to purchase 220 electronic poll books from Election Systems & Software. The machines will speed up and improve voter processing on Election Day, officials have said.

Luzerne County Courthouse County Courthouse

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.