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Lake County officials plan wheel-tax primer for citizens

Updated: March 19, 2013 6:17AM



Before Lake County officials take up discussion on enacting a countywide wheel tax they want residents to understand how state motor vehicle and highway funds are distributed.

The Lake County Council said it is working with the Board of Commissioners to bring in representatives from the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program at Purdue University in West Lafayette to share details of a study that breaks down how revenues from the state’s gasoline tax, Department of Motor Vehicles revenues and other road-related sources are collected and distributed.

“You will really be able to see the disproportionate share (of the taxes) that come back,” Larry Blanchard, consultant to the commissioners.

The Purdue team has been traveling around the state sharing the results of the independent report to help people understand much of the funds that originally were intended to be distributed for road construction and maintenance, such as the state’s gasoline tax, have been diverted from that purpose by state officials.

Blanchard said a firm date has not been set for the presentation, but he expects the presentation will take place the last week of February or in early March. The presentation will take place in the evening in the Lake County Government Center auditorium.

County Council President Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said it is important officials and residents understand the disbursement process and why not enough funds for roads are making their way back to Lake County.

The County Council is considering a local wheel tax as a possible source of new revenue to help ease the county’s budget crisis. If enacted, funds from a wheel tax would be distributed to towns and cities by a formula in the state statute that allows the county to create the tax.

“We need to understand the MVH (motor vehicle highway) distribution. It’s an education process to move us in the right direction,” Bilski said.



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