O.K. folks, here’s the down and dirties on the Wheel Tax. It passed.
I know, you are in shock.
Most of us will pay $25.00, light trailers and motorcycles less. Heavy vehicles, buses, recreational vehicles taxed at $40.00.
How did the county council come up with these rates? Let’s ask the county lawyer. Attorney Amanda Dunnuck said she looked at surrounding counties that had a wheel tax. Finally, decided on the Madison County rates, since their county mirrored our county. Madison county is at the top of the scale when it comes to the tire fee a/k/a wheel tax. We can’t let anybody steal our place at #1 for taxation…still, we will be satisfied to share first place with our neighbor, Madison County. (At least on this one.)
We can revisit the tax in 2013, amended from 2015.
President Todd Donati believes this tax will generate 2.9 million dollars, based on the amount of registered vehicles in 2008. This is only an approximate figure, could be more, could be less.
So, here is the breakdown on the wheel tax. Delaware county has 850 miles of road. 100 miles will be paved based on the estimated 2.9 million bucks. Don’t expect your potholes to be fixed any time soon, that is not going to happen. Joe Russell (he has an engineering background) said we can pave 40 miles for $1,000,000. He stated unless the drainage problems get addressed, paving will not make a bit of difference in the long run.
What our elected commissioners have to say:
- 100% will go to paving/maintenance
- The public will receive periodic paving updates
- Everything will be functional in a year
- Confident the county will be able to pave
- Will only contract out if highway dept. gets behind (exception: loaders will need to be outsourced, county does not have the vehicles to bring the materials in)
- Ask the highway dept. to come up with an “extreme maintenance program”
- Donati will not ask for any additional employees
- Donati guarantees we will see a difference in our roads
President Donati says his intent is to make the process effective and consolidate. Not sure what he plans on consolidating. He also stated he does not unconsolidate, and he is sick and tired of those who say otherwise. He can put the rumor to rest the consolidation of the highway and engineering departments (done by the previous commissioners) is still intact, by continuing to show the savings of $500,000.
Many people spoke in favor of the wheel tax, and many others brought valid concerns, questions and statements.
One citizen asked if we were being creative with our spending? He mentioned the Morrison TIF funds and why was it being used for a round-a-bout when the road needed paving? He mentioned the decrease in revenue, yet when the taxes were flowing in, the roads were still in bad shape. He has a point there, folks. No matter how much tax base we had, can anybody honestly say our roads have ever been in great shape? Yep, this tax will change all that. (Tongue in cheek comment.) He wondered why the 8 million dollars sitting in the Morrison TIF could not be used. ‘Cause, as some pointed out, the fund no longer has an 8 million dollar balance.
Another spoke on the $800,000 sitting in the highway account. What about that money? Money sure can get shuffled around in the county.
The fact is, people can not trust the elected officials to handle our money properly. The officials understand this and go out of their way to assure us everything will be fine, citing laws and codes designed to protect the interest of the people. I fail to find any real comfort in these laws. Afterall, we have seen public access laws broken and not even a slap on the wrist. The only real consequence the officials face is no re-election to office. Hardly a real threat…they know voters have a short memory. I feel optimistic the voters will remember since Muncie City Council will more than likely enact LOIT (1.25%) in July. Two new taxes within weeks of each other!
The county really doesn’t have a plan on spending the money. We have a paving list, no plan. Neither do the cities. Get the money and plan later.
On other county business:
Chris Matchett, president of council, sent letters to the department heads asking for 24% reduction in their budget. Don Dunnuck said if the department heads can’t find the saving, the council will find it for them. He stated can’t preserve the status quo, no chice but to cut 24%. All commissioners are 100% in favor.
Little is know about the 24% budget cut request…hopefully, we will hear more on it in the near future. The dog tax was tabled again.
My thoughts. Muncie has 10% unemployment rate, over 50% of our children are on free or reduced lunch, foreclosures and tax sales among the highest in the state. The medium income of the residents is $25,000/year and the Democrats who have claimed to be for the people, have no problem adding a tax burden on those who are struggling as it is. No compassion, no thought on how this can affect low and moderate incomes. All for 100 miles of paving.