Your thoughts and opinion are needed on an important subject:  Owen County Roads

 

The Owen County Commissioners are responsible for the management, operations, equipment, staffing, and policies of the Owen County Highway Department; however, the Owen County Council handles the financing and budgeting of the department.  The council will soon conduct an important Public Hearing concerning our county's Local Option Highway User Tax (LOHUT), commonly referred to as the "Wheel Tax".  Everyone is invited to attend, to learn more about how local road funding works, some of the challenges we face concerning road maintenance and repair, and exchange ideas as to how to get the most out of the funding that is available to us and what additional funding can be secured.  Additional detail on road funding is provided toward the end of this e-mail.  Here are the details of the Public Hearing:

 

Owen County Local Option Highway User Tax Public Hearing
Monday, June 2nd, 2014, 7:00pm
Owen County Courthouse, 2nd Floor Meeting Room


Between now and the time of the hearing, I would like to hear from you on the following survey questions.  I had conducted a similar survey late 2012, but updated information would be helpful in preparing for the hearing.  Please forward your survey response to my e-mail address:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  As touched on above, some background information on current road/highway funding sources is further below if you wish to read that prior to answering the survey questions.

 

1a)   Do you reside on a County Road, Town Street, State Highway, or Private Road?

 

1b)   If you reside on a County Road, what is the name of the road?

 

1c)   If you reside on a County Road, what roads (if any) do you travel regularly to get to/from your home, or to visit friends and family?

 

1d)   If you reside on a Town Street, State Highway, or Private Road, what are 2 or 3 County Roads that you travel most often?

 

2)   How would you describe the type of surface and condition of each of the roads you mentioned above?

 

3)   How many registered vehicles (including motorcycles) do you own?  How many registered trailers do you own?  How many registered vehicles >11,000 pounds in weight do you own?

 

4a)   Would you be in favor or not in favor of an increase in Owen County’s LOHUT amounts for additional road material funding for resurfacing work, and why?

 

4b)   If you are in favor of increasing Owen County's LOHUT, should it be raised to the maximum allowable, or to an amount somewhere in between?  (*See below for current rates and maximums)

 

4c)   If you are not in favor of increasing Owen County's LOHUT, what actions or changes do you recommend be taken in order to fund road materials for resurfacing work?

 

5)   What questions do you have for me concerning roads, the Owen County Highway Department, budgets, etc.?


If you have not yet reported any trouble spots on County Roads you have traveled to the Owen County Highway Department, please contact them at 812-829-3335.  Please give them the date/time, road name, and approximate address of each trouble spot.

 

If your response from the department is not satisfactory, feel free to contact any of our County Commissioners:

 

Commissioner Donnie Minnick, District 1
Harrison, Jackson, Jennings, Montgomery, Taylor, Wayne Townships
812-879-4926
812-828-1343

 

Commissioner Tony Voelker, District 2
Clay, Franklin, Washington Townships
812-325-0570

 

Commissioner Marc Ruble, District 3
Jefferson, Lafayette, Marion, Morgan Townships
812-828-0544


HOW ROAD FUNDING WORKS

 

Local units of government like Owen County receive the bulk of their money for roads from the State of Indiana.  Money from Fuel Taxes when you pay at the pump and Motor Vehicle Excise Taxes when you pay for your registration/plates is collected by the state.  The State Legislature determines what types of vehicles' excise taxes go to certain state funds, any direct funding of state agencies from those funds, and the types and structure of the distribution formulas used to determine how much we get here locally.  Road mileage and population are taken into account.  Both the Towns of Spencer and Gosport receive part of this revenue.  For the county, this revenue is deposited into, and funds our General Highway Fund.

 

A Local Option Highway User Tax (LOHUT) is adoptable per decision of each individual county.  Owen County had adopted this in 1997.  It actually refers to both the "County Motor Vehicle Excise Sur Tax" IC 3-6.5-4 and the "County Wheel Tax" IC 3-6.5-5, depending on the type of vehicle registration one has, and it is collected by the state when you pay for of your registration/plates.  There are maximum limits to this tax, per those sections of Indiana Code.  For us, the current surtax is $12.50/year ($25/year is the state limit) for each auto, truck <11,000 pounds, and motorcycle registered in our county.  The current wheel tax is $20/year ($40/year is the state limit) for a variety of large trucks, commercial vehicles, buses, semis, etc. registered in our county.  There is one exception where only $5/year ($40/year is the maximum) is assessed for vehicle trailers.  In order for new rates and additional revenue to take effect by January 1, 2015, the County Council would have to adopt a revised LOHUT ordinance before July 1, 2014.  Indiana Code also specifically states that this revenue can only be spent on road materials, i.e. stone, chip & seal, asphalt, and other aggregate.  This money cannot be used to pay for employees, raises, equipment, trucks, insurance, utilities, gasoline, etc.  There is a small population factor taken into account so that both the Towns of Spencer and Gosport receive a part of this revenue.  For the county, the revenue is deposited into, and funds our Local Road & Street Fund.

 

We currently budget and/or appropriate all of the money both distributed to us by the state and collected through our LOHUT, for our roads.  All 2014 approved budgets are available for viewing in the "Meeting Minutes/Taxpayer Resources" section of the Owen County Council District Two website via the following link:

 

http://www.antonkarlneff.com/meeting-minutes/cat_view/39-taxpayer-resources-a-information


As mentioned, I encourage you to take the time to share your answers to the survey questions above and share your opinion with me by either sending an email reply to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or, by calling me direct at:  812-829-4254.

 

Paid for by Anton Karl Neff personally