The Commissioners of Wayne County, Indiana are currently evaluating whether or not to institute a wheel tax (formally known as a "Local Option Highway User Tax"), as allowed for by Indiana's General Assembly since 1980. It would charge an annual fee to residents registering vehicles in the County, $25 for cars and other small vehicles, $40 for large trucks, RVs, buses, etc. A few thoughts on this proposal and how we got here:
First, the tax is being presented by the Commissioners as a suddenly urgent need for the area, "act before it's too late," they say. I find this characterization troubling given that one of the fundamental truths of life is that roads will deteriorate over time and will require money be spent on them if we want to keep them fixed up. If our ability to maintain infrastructure comes down to whether or not we can urgently get the public to approve additional taxation once in a while, then we're doing it wrong. Where was the long-term planning and well-thought-out discussion that would give the community time to react to this significant problem in our county and explore alternatives?