By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON – Madison County will be spending almost $2 million this year on paving projects, thanks in part to the reinstatement of the county’s wheel tax.
The Madison County Council on Tuesday approved spending $1,250,000 from the reinstated wheel tax and $600,000 from Local Road & Street funds on paving projects throughout the county. An additional $150,000 was approved from the Local Road & Street fund for pavement markings.
Commissioner John Richwine said there is a list of roads to be paved in 2014, but the list is being re-evaluated.
Richwine said the wheel tax revenues can only be used for materials. He said the revenues are not used on labor costs or to purchase equipment.
He said the wheel tax will probably generate more than $1,250,000 this year.
“Last year we concentrated on the worst chip and seal roads in the county,” Richwine said. “We did some strip patching.”
He said the roads around the Wildcat Wind Farm in northern Madison County were the best chip and seal roads in the county after E.on Climate & Renewables completed placement of the wind turbines.
Councilman David McCartney voted against the wheel tax appropriation.
“If we’re going to give bonuses, we shouldn't have a tax,” McCartney said in reference to the $500 bonus provided to full-time county employees last year.
The County Council reinstated the wheel tax in 2013. The tax was enacted in 2009, but the council voted in 2012 to eliminate the wheel tax over the objection of city and town government officials.
The annual surtax on passenger vehicles and small trucks is $25; the additional fee for small trailers is $5. The tax applies to recreational vehicles. Semitrailers are taxed at $15 and tractors at $40.
The council approved a request from the county commissioners for $1,250,000 from the general fund to pay for engineering and the purchase of right of way for the replacement of the Eisenhower Bridge over the White River in Anderson.
Of that amount, Richwine said $1 million is reimbursable through a grant from the Madison County Council of Governments.
Local resident Jim Janes asked if repair work could be done on the bridge to delay replacing the span for several years in the hope that federal infrastructure dollars will be available.
Richwine said the county applied several times for federal funds, but was unsuccessful.
“We will keep trying to get grant money,” he said. “It will be several years before the work starts.”
Work is not scheduled to start in 2016 or 2017. The Eisenhower Bridge was constructed in 1969. Plans for the new bridge call for a deck to be 83 feet wide, 10 feet wider than the current span. There will be a center line divider and pedestrian and bike lanes on both sides of the bridge.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.
Wheel tax revenue Madison County's annual surtax on passenger vehicles and small trucks is $25; the additional fee for small trailers is $5. The tax applies to recreational vehicles. Semitrailers are taxed at $15 and tractors at $40.