The tax, proposed by the County Commission, would impose a $25 tax on motorcycles and a $50 tax on automobiles registered within the county borders to help reduce the recently increased property tax.
Officials said 40 percent of county residents own property, but more than 80 percent own a vehicle.
However many residents (and at least two commissioners) felt like the wheel tax would only spread the tax burden even further for Marion County residents.
When originally presented to commissioners for vote, Commissioner Louin Campbell voted no, saying he thinks “people have a big enough burden on them right now without adding another tax to it.”
“You’re not adding another tax if you’re going to take off of the property tax,” Commissioner Donald Blansett said. “The property tax is already in. We’re not adding anymore burden.”
Campbell said that simply wasn’t true.
“I’ll be paying more on wheel tax now on top of the new property tax,” he said. “I think it’s time to start looking out for the poor people in the county instead of the people that have everything.”
Commissioner Wayne Willis said the wheel tax will spread the tax burden across a larger group since citing the same reasons as Campbell mentioned regarding property owners versus car owners.
Campbell said anyone who is renting property is still paying property taxes.
“[The landlord] is including his property tax in that rent,” he said. “You can bet your bottom dollar on that. They’re charging those poor people who can’t afford it more to rent. Those people are paying their taxes and [the landlord's] too.”
However the commission’s plan to approve a wheel tax hit a brief snag along the way when officials found that endorsing it might force the county to hold a costly special election.
That was avoided when commissioners voted to put the question on the March ballot, using the same language commissioners had considered. It includes a promise to reduce property tax rates by the amount the tax generates.
Commissioner Gene Hargis made the motion, saying he didn’t want to take chances that could cost the county more money. The motion passed 13-2.
After Tuesday’s election, the proposed wheel tax was a “no-go” by the voters’ hand, with 72.6% of voters opposing the tax.
Information from: TimesFreePress.com