The Bureau of Motor Vehicles has allowed its deputy registrars to charge Ohio motorists more than $3 million for a service the registrars no longer perform.

Each driver's license or identification card issuance or renewal is accompanied by a $1.50 lamination fee to compensate registrars for encasing the cards in plastic.

However, with the switch to federally compliant driver's licenses and ID cards, a BMV vendor — not local registrars — has produced and mailed the cards for more than eight months — since July 2.

Based on the monthly average of the nearly 2.6 million driver's licenses and 448,000 ID cards issued last year, an estimated 2 million Ohioans since have paid more than $3 million in lamination fees.

The continued collection of the fee by registrars was only recently "brought to our attention" and will be addressed in the two-year state budget to be introduced Friday by Gov. Mike DeWine, said BMV spokesman Lindsey Bohrer. "The verbiage was never updated to reflect changes in technology," she said.

The budget bill language "will update Ohio statutes to better reflect the current functions of deputy registrars associated with issuance of driver licenses and state identification cards, which no longer includes local printing and lamination, but now instead includes additional document verification and scanning," Bohrer said.

The fee collected by about 200 registrars will remain $1.50 and be renamed to reflect the additional cost of local workers now reviewing and scanning additional identification documents, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards, to allow the state to issue federally compliant licenses, she said. Ohioans must obtain the new cards by Oct. 1, 2020, to board commercial airline flights.

And, the retention of that amount would come on top of a $1.50 increase in the deputy registrar fee to $5 on each license under a provision in the House-passed version of the state transportation budget now before the Senate.

Catherine Turcer, executive director of the good-government group Common Cause Ohio, objected to registrars still pocketing the fee.

"Clearly, the registrars should not be charging for something they are not providing ... that's not fair," she said. "Many of us don't think about a buck fifty, it's not a big deal. But, it is a big deal when you think about being charged extra fees for no reason. We want to spend our money on what we expected."

Legislators unanimously approved a bill Dec. 27 that retained the lamination fee while extending the expiration of ID cards issued to permanently disabled Ohioans from four years to eight years. The change in law takes effect April 8.

Ohioans now pay $25.75 to renew a driver's license, consisting of a general $18 fee, a $2.75 vision-test charge, the $1.50 lamination fee and a $3.50 deputy registrar fee, which would increase by 43 percent to $5 in the pending transportation budget.

Deputy registrars, most of whom contract with BMV, keep $5.90 of the current license amount while the remaining $19.85 goes to the state, which places the resulting $62 million a year in the operating funds of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the State Highway Patrol.

The state pays a vendor $1.85 to produce and mail each of the federally required licenses with more security features, an increase of nearly 72 cents over the cost when deputy registrars issued the licenses.