WARSAW — The Kosciusko County Council could not reach a consensus on what the county’s annual wheel tax will look like and agreed to reconvene at 7 p.m. July 23, to give it another go.
The road strip that punctured the panel’s progress involved trailers, particularly those with a carrying capacity of more than 7,000 pounds.
Wheel Tax Committee Member Doug Heinisch proposed the changes mentioned last month and suggested that heavy trailers not be increased. His motion was seconded by Joni Truex and, after much discussion to include several citizens who chimed in a month after the public hearing session, died with a vote of 5-2 against.
Council Member Mike Long made an alternative motion, which was seconded by Ernie Wiggins. “Let’s treat all trailers the same above 7,000 pounds, let’s raise it from $40 to $60 and re-evaluate it in two years,” said Long. That vote also died with Heinisch and Truex voting against. This particular vote required a unanimous vote to pass, according to County Attorney Chad Miner.
The Wheel and Excise Tax generated $2,681,572.24 in revenue in 2018, which was divided among 14 county municipalities and the county’s highway department. As it currently stands, without the disputed heavy trailer issue, tax for trucks of 7,000 pounds to 11,000 pounds, along with automobiles, will be $35, up from the previous tax of $25. Motorcycles will remain at $25. Although the council used four lines to specify different variations of semi tractors and semi tractor trailers, all such vehicles will increase from $40 to $60.
Trailers smaller than 7,000 pounds will be lowered from $40 to $25 and snowmobiles, recreational vehicles and off road vehicles will decrease from $40 to $25.
If the council eventually agrees to apply the increase for heavy trailers, the Wheel Tax Committee estimates it could generate an extra $90,000 annually.
In other business, the council heard budget presentations from non-profits, including the county’s historical society, the county’s 4-H council, Cardinal Center, Home Health Care, Beaman Home, Kosciusko County Senior Services, Animal Welfare League and the Bowen Center.