By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Madison County will receive nearly $2.3 million in new road funding over the next two years under the $30 billion budget Gov. Mike Pence signed into law last week.
And it will be available without the requirement that counties approve an excise surtax or wheel tax to be eligible for the new funding.
That requirement, pushed by the Indiana Senate, was dropped from the final budget bill.
Still, the Madison County Council is moving forward with plans to restore the vehicle taxes and will hold a public hearing on the proposal Monday at the Madison County Government Center.
Council President John Bostic said last week that momentum for restoring the taxes has been building in the county’s cities and towns, which were particularly affected by the previous council’s decision to repeal the fees that were collected annually through the motor vehicle registration process.
Anderson, Alexandria, Edgewood, Elwood, Pendleton and Summitville adopted resolutions urging the council to reinstate the tax.
Even Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold, who describes himself as a conservative Republican, said he supported the City Council’s resolution supporting reinstatement of the tax.
He said the wheel tax is a good way to pay for road maintenance costs because only the owners of cars and trucks pay the fee.
The Republican-controlled County Council voted to rescind the $25 wheel tax in early April last year over the objections of local government leaders who said they depended on the surcharges to pay for road paving and provide local matching funds for projects that receive state and federal funding. The taxes were in effect from 2009 to 2012.
Alexandria resident Danny Hayes said a citizens coalition has formed to oppose reinstatement of the wheel tax, and he hopes they provide a compelling argument about why the tax would be a hardship.
“The wheel tax is a burden on low-income people, it really is,” Hayes said. “It just seems like they are really not working for the people of the county.”
Councilman Rick Gardner, R-District 4, said in an interview on Thursday that his opposition to the wheel tax has never wavered, adding that the last council approved a budget that has more money in it dedicated to roads than was allocated when the wheel tax was in existence.
“I don’t know what the turnout will be, but I hope it will be good,” Gardner said. “I’ll be working on my facts and figures over the weekend. Hopefully, my sales pitch will be good.”
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What: Public hearing on reinstating the wheel tax
Who: Madison County Council
When: 5 p.m. Monday, May 13
Where: Madison County Government Center, 16 E. Ninth St., Anderson