Board passes tax
Vehicle owners in Faribault County can now count on an additional $10 being tacked on to their registration fees.
Money that will go right back to improving the roads on which those vehicles travel.
After some debate at the Faribault County Board meeting held earlier this month, the commissioners passed the wheelage tax last Tuesday but not without a little extra debate.
The meeting held July 23 at the Faribault County Fairgrounds saw the resolution for the wheelage tax revisited. And, although it passed, not all of the votes were in favor of the new tax.
Commissioners John Roper and Tom Warmka voted to pass the resolution and commissioners Tom Loveall and Bill Groskruetz voted no. The chair, Greg Young, broke the tie by voting yes and passing the resolution.
“I’ve been calling around and getting calls on this,”?Warmka says. “And, more of the people that I’ve spoken with feel this is the right thing to do.”
Warmka adds that since this is a locally enforced tax, it can be used to aid the road projects and can be taken off as easily as it was put on.
“The longer we wait, the farther behind we get on road repairs,” he says. “It won’t fix our problems but it will get us ahead.”
Loveall didn’t feel that adding this tax locally would make it any easier to take off in the future.
“There is a need for this in our funds, but we won’t get rid of it,”?he says. “I don’t think it will go away.”
Groskruetz thought the way the tax is distributed would be unfair.
“The problem with this is that an 80 plus year old widow that drives 1,000 miles a year is going to pay the same as someone who drives 100,000 miles a year,”?he says. “I am not in favor of this.”
Since the resolution passed, the wheelage tax will now be enforced in Faribault County effective January 1, 2014.
The cost in 2014 would be $10 per taxable vehicle. Some vehicles would be exempt from this including motorcycles and classic cars. In 2018, the county would have the option to adjust the amount up to $20 per vehicle.
The money from the wheelage tax will be used for road projects around Faribault County.
Faribault County engineer John McDonald was present at the meeting to answer any questions on the tax.
There are more than 30 counties in Minnesota that have adopted the wheelage tax, including Waseca, Freeborn and Watonwan counties.
“The fact that many of our neighboring counties are using this wheelage tax tells me our state isn’t doing their job to fund us,” commissioner Warmka adds.
There are currently around 16,000 vehicles in Faribault County to which the wheelage tax could be applied.
In other business:
the County Board heard an update from Michele Stindtman of Faribault County Planning and Zoning and Soil and Water Conservation district.
She presented a timeline on the county’s progress in regard to the comprehensive plan.
A work session has been held on the topic of economic development and housing. Future work sessions include; transportation and parks on Aug. 8, critical facilities and infrastructure on Sept. 5 and land use on Sept. 26.
Region Nine has been working with the county on the comprehensive plan and they hope to have the draft to the planning commission by November.
The county board also discussed the vacant drainage inspector position. John Mayer had previously held the position and left for a job in a different field of work.
Stindtman felt this would be a good time to reevaluate the position and decide what type of person should be brought on before they begin their search for a replacement. Some of the commissioners agreed that they would like to be involved in the hiring process.
Miranda Rosa attended the meeting to give an update on the adult and family drug courts.
She told the county commissioners that the drug court is one of the top 10 drug courts in the country.
“Other courts from around the country will be coming here to learn from us,”?she says.
Rosa adds that the family drug court continues to make adjustments to the way they run the program in order to fine tune it as much as possible.