WARSAW — The Kosciusko County Council discussed the possibility of raising a tax that motorists pay on their vehicles — at least for most motorists.
During the council’s monthly meeting Thursday night, May 9, the panel heard from council member Doug Heinisch, who sits on the county’s Wheel Tax Committee, a board that studied the impact the tax has on the county’s coffers.
“The Wheel Tax Committee has met to take a look at the wheel tax,” Heinisch said. “Is it still appropriate? Are we utilizing it appropriately? It’s really something that the council is trying to look at on an annual basis since we enacted the wheel tax, I believe five years ago.”
Heinisch said that since the inception of the tax, the council has endeavored to leave the rate unchanged “in an effort to understand the impact of the revenues, as well as to determine the ability to effectively utilize these funds.
“Over the past two years, however, the county has seen significant increases in material and labor costs that will increase the costs to maintain and continue the current condition of the roads in our county,” he said. “It is because of this increased burden that the Wheel Tax Committee is recommending the increases of certain tax rates in an effort to raise the additional revenues needed to respond to the rising costs we currently operate in.”
According to Heinisch, the wheel tax for trucks from 7,000 to 11,000 pounds, as well as automobiles would be raised from $25 to $35 under the committee’s proposal. Semi trailers and trucks, including farm semi trailers and trucks, would pay a wheel tax of $60, increased from $40. For trailers less than $7,000 pounds, a tax would decrease from $40 to $25.
Council member Kimberly Cates said the county has seen a decline in wheel tax revenue, used for road work, in recent years.
“We’re finding thousands and thousands of dollars less each year from this, and our costs are going up,” she said. “So, that is an important factor that people need to know. But, the trajectory, if we keep it the same, is going to be a lot less next year.”
Cates said that 62 percent of the revenues generated by the wheel tax goes to the county, with the remainder being divided up among the county’s many municipalities.
The board agreed to hold a public comment session before the June 13 regular meeting. The comment session will begin at 6 p.m., one hour prior to the start of the regular meeting. The proposed rate increases will not be voted on until the July meeting after the council has heard public comment.
More to come
Ink Free News will feature more coverage from the Thursday, May 9 County Council meeting on its pages Friday, May 10.