On Monday, the Noble County Council made official its intention to provide a progressive thinking Noble County Highway Department with additional tax revenue to fund its efforts.
By a 6-1 vote, the council voted to initiate a new minimum tax on passenger vehicles registered in Noble County. Before becoming law, the council will have to hold a public hearing and pass an ordinance.
Currently, Noble County residents have to pay a 10 percent surcharge on the amount they pay in state taxes when they register their vehicle. The minimum charge is $7.50.
People with older and lower-value vehicles pay less, while people with newer, more expensive cars pay more. For example, someone with a 10-year-old vehicle only pays the minimum of $7.50, while someone with a brand new vehicle that costs more than $42,500 is going to pay the maximum – $106.30.
The council voted to keep the 10 percent surcharge, but raised the minimum to $17.50.
The tax won’t affect people who are driving newer vehicles, they will still have to pay the state’s excise tax and an additional 10 percent in local taxes. But it will require those owning older models at the bottom of the excise tax rate to pay $10 more per year.
The council voted to leave the wheel tax on commercial vehicles at its current rate of $40 per vehicle.
If passed before July, the new tax would not take effect until registrations which are renewed after Jan. 1, 2019.
The Noble County Highway Department recoups 85 percent of the tax dollars generated, according to county highway department engineer Zack Smith. The remaining 15 percent goes to cities and towns.
The money must be used to improve local roads or bridges.
Raising the minimum will increase the total tax money available for road and bridge improvements from $830,000 to $964,000 countywide. The county will have approximately $819,000 of that money available, up from $700,000 at current rates.