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Wheel tax may go up


The wheel tax in LaGrange County may be increased for 2014. The current tax was enacted in 2003 and is 2 percent of the state imposed excise tax for vehicles up to 11,000 pounds gross vehicle weight ($10 minimum) and up to $20 minimum for various other vehicles, including semi tractors and trailers.

The proposed tax increase is being pursued because of the 2013-2015 budget bill passed by the Indiana State Senate which will send more road tax money back to counties. This bill provides that counties who have enacted a wheel tax at 50 percent of the state allowed surcharge of 10 percent on excise tax will be eligible for 20 percent of the additional allocated gasoline tax dollars and those counties which have enacted the maximum of 10 percent of state excise tax will receive 100 percent of their allotment.

For state fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, the county will not be reimbursed some $360,000 and for fiscal year ending 2015 and forward the county will lose $624,000 a year.

Commissioners passed a resolution that asks the county council to consider passing an ordinance that will raise the county excise tax to the 10 percent amount specified in the Senate Bill. The public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be considered at the May 13 council meeting at 8:30 a.m.

The commissioners’ request did not include a request to elevate the minimum wheel tax on trailers (currently $5) or buses (now $20), semi tractors ($20), semi trailers ($20), horse-drawn vehicles ($10), or other vehicles ranging from $15 to $20 each.

For license plates renewed for the year 2013, a 2004 Chevrolet pickup truck is assessed a state excise tax of $26. The local tax is a minimum of $10. That would remain unchanged under the new proposed ordinance.

Likewise, the excise tax for 2013 imposed on a 2011 Chevrolet truck is $228. The current $10 minimum tax applies. The new local wheel tax would be $22.58 under the proposed ordinance.

Highway Superintendent Jeff Brill said that 32 of the 92 counties in the state currently have the full 10 percent local excise tax enacted and that the other counties vary from none to 80 percent of the tax.

Currently, LaGrange County raises about $53,000 in per vehicle tax and $237,500 in added on excise tax.