The Van Buren County Commission approved a resolution 9-1 Monday night to send a Wheel Tax referendum to the November ballot.
County voters will have the chance to decide to accept or reject a $40-dollar tax on vehicles. Half of the funds are earmarked for Van Buren County Schools, while the other half goes toward the county’s general fund.
Mayor Greg Wilson said the potential Wheel Tax could potentially negate property tax increases in the future.
“The most important thing about this is it has those people out there that aren’t paying property taxes,” Wilson said, “that are renting houses or whatever it may be, but they drive and reap the benefits of all the property taxes. So, it’s a way to make it fair for everybody to pay their own share.”
Budget Committee Chairman William Maxwell said there are approximately 5,000 vehicles in Van Buren County. He said a wheel tax is a way to stabilize the county’s financial health.
“I feel like even with the property tax that we just passed, it only sustains us for a brief period,” Maxwell said. “There was a very minimal amount built into that budget for extra room for growing. As things are changing, like increases in salary, for instance, mandated salaries, we don’t have much room there. Hopefully a wheel tax will offset that for a little bit longer.”
In 2018, the Van Buren County Commission passed a $10 Wheel Tax to help fund correction officers for the new county jail and the county’s E-911 service. That tax was struck down by voters in a special election in February 2019.
Wilson said he sees this proposed Wheel Tax as a huge benefit to the county’s schools. He said the schools will need a boost in funds within the next few years.
“I think it’s very important for the school system,” Wilson said. “First and foremost. They get 50-percent of the Wheel Tax if it’s passed by the voters.”