JEFFERSONVILLE — At the request of County Councilman Kevin Vissing, the Clark County Council discussed the possibility of implementing a wheel tax and motor vehicle excise tax at their meeting Monday.
The discussion came on the heels of the budget bill passed by the Senate Appropriations committee at the Statehouse. The bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration, according to an e-mail distributed to the Indiana Association of County Commissioners obtained by the News and Tribune.
A provision in the budget bill would require that motor vehicle highway account distributions to a county and cities and towns in the county be frozen at fiscal year 2013 level unless the county has adopted a county motor vehicle excise surtax and wheel tax, and that the excise surtax be adopted at a rate that is at least 50 percent of the maximum rate.
“It’s not equitable,” Clark County Commissioners President Jack Coffman said in reference to the state withholding funds from counties without such taxes.
The minimum wheel tax would be $5, while the maximum motor vehicle excise tax to receive MVH funds would be $25. The bill provides for allowing county councils to enact and control the rate.
Vissing said the county could stand to get up to $2.5 million if it were to enact the taxes.
“Regardless of whether the [Senate budget bill] goes through, I still want to pursue it,” Vissing said.
Vissing asked that other council members join him on a committee to discuss the pros and cons of enacting the taxes. Fellow Democrat and council member Susan Popp agreed to join, and asked that even those who were opposed join them in a healthy discussion.
When Popp asked who initially opposed the taxes, council members Kelly Khuri, Steve Doherty and Danny Yost — all Republicans — raised their hands.
Council Vice President Brian Lenfert wondered aloud whether more vehicle owners would register their vehicles across the bridge in Kentucky if the taxes were enacted.
LANDFILL LOOKING FOR MORE BOND MONEY
Representatives from Clark-Floyd Landfill LLC, Jacobi, Toombs & Lanz, H.J. Umbaugh & Associates and attorney Jake Elder appeared before the council to present a request for an additional $9 million in bonds for the expansion of the landfill.
The bond issue is nearly identical in structure and amount to one the council approved in 2011, said Gary Malone with Umbaugh.
JTL Vice President Mike Harris explained that the money would be used for the construction of a barrier wall along the western boundary of the landfill. Harris said the wall would increase the landfill’s capacity and life. The bond would also pay for a pump station at the landfill that would pump wastewater directly off the property to a treatment plant. The landfill currently trucks wastewater off the property.
The council will consider a bond ordinance at their meeting in May.
COUNCIL APPROVES LONG-TERM INVESTMENTS
The council unanimously approved a request from County Treasurer David Reinhardt to increase the length of 25 percent of the county’s investments from two years to five years.
The Statehouse enacted legislation giving counties the option to do so. Both the amount of the county’s total investments and the length of the terms are the maximum allowable by the state under the new rules, Reinhardt said. The county could make an additional $100,000 per year, he said.
The commissioners must also approve the move before it goes into effect.