County Government and Local Government and Johnson County and Regional News and Government & Economic Development and Government

Johnson County considers more fees for revenue boost

May 31, 2012

The wide range of new or increased fees being considered by a central Indiana county comes as many counties across the state are looking for new sources of revenue because of statewide property tax caps.

Johnson County officials are considering charging a $20 fee whenever the Sheriff's Department calls tow trucks for vehicles involved in crashes, abandoned or seized as evidence, the Daily Journal reported in a story Thursday. A $100 fee would be charged when the county dive team pulls a vehicle from a drainage pond.

The animal control, planning and parks departments in the county just south of Indianapolis also are considering new or increased fees, such as for permits or licenses, county Commissioner Tom Kite said.

"It's unfortunate but necessary," Kite said.

David Bottorff, executive director of the Association of Indiana Counties, said that while the group doesn't track such user fees, he knows that more of the state's 92 counties are turning to them.

He said state law limits what services are subject to county fees and they can't exceed what it costs the county to provide services such as providing building or health department permits.

"On one hand, you can make the argument that the people using that particular service are paying for that service and it's not being subsidized by general property tax dollars as much," Bottorff told The Associated Press.

Kite said any new or increased fees for Johnson County would be in line with what surrounding counties charge.

Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said Indianapolis police charge a $90 towing fee.

Towing fees are expected to bring in about $75,000 a year for Johnson County, based on the number of tow trucks the sheriff's office has requested over the past several years, Cox said.

The sheriff's office will cover its administrative costs by charging the new fee, Cox said. Any extra money could go to equipment such as new radar guns and training such as for accidents investigations.

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