LAPORTE — The City Council here has reaffirmed its support for a tax on motor vehicle registrations being used to get streets back into shape.
Monday night's unanimous decision to include the city's wheel tax ordinance in the city's transportation asset management plan was adopted.
City Attorney Rebecca Meyer-McCuaig said the council faced a Sept. 1 deadline to include the plan's date of approval, as required by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, for the wheel tax to remain in effect locally for 2018.
"It's already active. We had to add this for this to stay active," McCuaig said.
The city's transportation plan was approved in September 2016, three months after the $15 wheel tax on passenger vehicles was adopted over the objections of many citizens.
Semi trucks are taxed $40 and motorcycles $15.
The charge is assessed at the time vehicle registrations are renewed, officials said.
About $500,000 a year is generated in LaPorte by the wheel tax. That amount is used to leverage another $500,000 in road money from the state each year.
To qualify for the matching dollars, municipalities in Indiana must have a transportation asset management plan in place.
In LaPorte, the plan rates the condition of every street to guide which should be repaired first. It also contains maintenance strategies for extending the life of streets once repaired.
The City Council has the option of rescinding the wheel tax, but it could be some time given the strings attached by the state for receiving more road dollars and the many streets in dire need of fixing.
"Who wants to pay a wheel tax? I don't. You got to have street money. Hopefully, someday we can get rid of it, but I don't know when," Councilman Roger Galloway said.
For the past three years, state matching dollars and other revenue sources from the city have created over $2 million annually for street repairs in LaPorte. Previously, the amount was often under $1 million.
As a result, close to 40 percent of the city's streets in need of repair should be fixed by the end of this year.
"Everybody let it go for so long. Now we're trying to get it done," Galloway said.