The Portage County TEA Party on Monday (June 30) turned in 81 petitions with approximately 2,834 signatures, the minimum number of signatures projected prior to a ruling by a court, to put one of the $5 license fee tax increases on the November ballot.
The increase from $5 per year to $15 per year per vehicle was imposed by the Portage County commissioners on May 29 without giving citizens the opportunity to vote on the tax increase.
Due to confusion about how to collect the signatures, and from which voters, the PCTEA only had one week to give Portage County citizens the opportunity to sign the petition to be able to vote on the increase.
The group also collected approximately 2,800 signatures for the other $5 license fee tax increase. but was not close to the approximately 4,323 signatures projected to be required to put that increase on the ballot.
Executive Director Tom Zawistowski said, "We had no problem getting signatures — nearly everyone we talked to wanted to vote on it, we just did not have enough time to do it. I thank all the members of the Portage County TEA Party who volunteered for the past 7 days to give there fellow Portage County citizens the opportunity to vote on this tax increase."
Zawistowski continued by explaining, "We understand the roads need to be repaired. We opposed the fee increase because fixing the roads requires a short term capital expenditure and that is how it should have been finance if you wanted to address that problem.
"Doubling the maintenance budget forever, was not in our opinion a reasonable approach, and the fact that the commissioners did not put it up for a vote of the public really made it impossible for the issue to be discussed fully by the public.
"We also have some problem with the fact that the engineer's office says that the roads got this bad because the commissioners have historically provided no funding from the county budget to maintain our roads and bridges in the first place when we believe that, next to safety, roads should be the second highest priority in the county budget."