Voters have chosen to continue paying a $30 annual wheel tax as the measure rolled to an easy victory last night.
Balloters voted “yes” to the wheel tax question by a count of 4,734 to 2,097.
The vote means the county will continue collecting the $30 per vehicle fee with revenue going to fund education.
The result was met with satisfaction by the 24-member Warren County Commission, which endorsed the wheel tax at a recent meeting, 22-1, with one member absent. Some commissioners actively campaigned outside the polls in support of the wheel tax and the executor of a political action fund to endorse the wheel tax was County Executive John Pelham. The committee reported spending $417 in trying to get the initiative passed by voters.
The result means the $30 wheel tax on each vehicle will remain being assessed as it has been for the past 20 years. The wheel tax began in 1992 to help pay for the present Warren County High School and Hickory Creek Elementary.
The tax generates about $1 million a year for education, although it has raised more in recent years. The $30 assessment is placed over top of the registration cost of each vehicle every year making the regular payment $54 a year when tags are renewed and a wheel tax sticker bought.
With voters passing the wheel tax it means commissioners do not have to worry about concerns that property taxes would need to be raised to offset the loss of wheel tax revenue. Based on current property values, it was estimated property taxes would need to be raised 17 cents to offset the $1 million in annual revenue.
One commissioner, Michael Martin of the 5th District, had stood alone on the County Commission opposing the wheel tax. He maintained the county’s debt service payments, even with building new schools in Morrison and Dibrell, would be coming down in coming years and the county could make financial ends meet without the wheel tax or raising property taxes.