A change in a state law is going to cost people who use small motorcycles for transportation more money. During the last session of the general assembly a new law was passed requiring all motorcycles with a 50cc engine or more to registered with the state and pay a $10 fee. The law also has provisions for counties to charge a wheel tax or surtax on the small cycles.
“We are getting inquiries from the state on whether we intend to add the wheel tax on motorcycles,” said Daviess County Attorney Grant Swartzentruber. “We need to make a decision by the middle of the year.”
“I don’t want to put on a new tax,” said Daviess County Commissioners President Tony Wichman. “A lot of these people who use the small motorcycles don’t have a lot of money.”
The county though may have to put the tax on to keep other funding streams for the county highway department open. “We may have to add it to be eligible for the state’s distressed loan road fund,” said county Highway Engineer Jason Heile. “In order to be eligible for those loans the state requires the county to have the maximum on local road taxes.”
The state’s Distressed Road Loan Fund allows counties to borrow up to $1 million without interest for projects and then gives the county up to eight years to repay it. “They want the county to have the maximum on local road taxes because they want to make certain the county has a solid funding method for repayment,” said county Highway Superintendent Phil Cornelius.
Currently the county has an active $600,000 loan from the account from the state and is still in the process of repaying it.
“We don’t want to overburden people with additional fees,” said Wichman, “but we may have to put it on to continue qualifying for state funds. Right now we don’t know what the county fee would be. For other vehicles it is $7.50. We don’t know if we would have to put all of that in place or not.”
The commissioners have decided to look into the new tax on small motorcycles some more before making a decision.
“If we have to add the tax then maybe we can make it a smaller amount,” said Wichman. “We need more information on this.”
“Let’s look at it some more,” said Commissioner Michael Taylor. “We still have a couple of meetings where we can make a decision before the deadline.”