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Published: Wednesday, 7/10/2002

New cash may flow into road accounts

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Road funds in area townships, villages, and cities may receive thousands of additional dollars as the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles implements a new computer system.

The bureau now relies on residents to state where they live, resulting in a large number of errors each year. A computer program will allow the bureau to match addresses with the correct tax district.

When vehicles are registered in the wrong locations, local shares of tax money, such as vehicle and permissive taxes, are received by the wrong community.

“This is the money we use for road and street maintenance. For us to lose tens of thousands of dollars is a major loss,” John Plock, Sylvania's finance director, said. “It's important to go after every penny we can.”

Registration errors result when people give their mailing address, which may not correspond to their tax district. For example, many Sylvania Township homes have a Toledo mailing address.

The bureau will install a computer program this fall that will correct its files during the next three years, Julie Stebbins, a bureau spokeswoman, said. The program is 98 percent accurate in associating each address with its proper tax district.

Beginning in 2003, the computer system will verify tax districts when residents renew their vehicle license registration at a bureau office, Ms. Stebbins said.

“This registration is very important. It assesses the fees that cities depend on,” she said. “We're very excited that we're going to be able to help everyone.”

In the Toledo area, some communities lose thousands of dollars each year when vehicles are registered under the wrong location.

Several municipalities hire Gaye Gindy, administrative secretary for the Sylvania Police Department, to audit Toledo records. Ms. Gindy, who has been doing audits for about 10 years, charges $2.50 for each error she discovers.

Her audit of 2001 registrations found more than $20,000 owed to Oregon and Sylvania, she said. She found thousands of errors that resulted in money for eight other communities, including Ottawa Hills and Springfield Township.

“Anything has got to be better than what is going on now,” Mr. Plock said. “We're all spending to make sure the right jurisdiction gets the money.”

Monclova Township reviewed vehicle registration records for the first time this year. An audit of Maumee, Swanton, and Waterville townships, and the villages of Swanton and Waterville revealed 1,400 incorrect records.

These errors will translate into an estimated $4,000 that will go into Monclova Township coffers, township Administrator Harold Grim said.

“The audit was very worthwhile,” he said.

Since many communities hire Ms. Gindy or conduct their own audits, the identified errors sometimes cancel each other out. “The money goes back and forth,” Mr. Plock said.

He said the bureau's new computer system was “good news for everyone.”

But for Ms. Gindy, the new computer program means she will be out thousands of dollars in annual income. But she said that with her full-time job at the police department, she would not be hurting for cash.

“The audits are a lot of work for me,” she said. “I'm not going to miss it a whole lot.”



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