Fishers City Council OKs wheel tax, gives itself pay raise

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It will cost a bit more to own a registered vehicle in Fishers starting in 2018.

The Fishers City Council voted unanimously Monday night to impose a $25 per-vehicle wheel tax to help fund future road maintenance projects. Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness proposed the tax earlier this month.

In addition Monday night, council members voted to give themselves a 58 percent pay raise, from $12,000 to $19,000 annually, starting next year. The nine-member city council, which was a town council until last year, hasn't seen a pay raise since the early 1990s.  

Under a road-funding bill the Indiana Legislature approved earlier this year, cities with a population of more than 10,000 are allowed to implement their own wheel tax. Other cities including Valparaiso, Portage, Crown Point, Munster and LaPorte have already approved imposing the tax.

For years, counties in the state have been able to implement a wheel tax, but Hamilton County does not have one.

Fadness described the new law as a “unique opportunity” to secure more funding.

Fadness told the council Monday night that a typical road needs to be repaved every 15 to 20 years, but the city lacks adequate funding to follow that schedule.

In 2013, the city spent about $1 million on paving, but could have used $2.7 million, according to Fadness. This year, the city allocated $1.95 million to road paving, but needed $3.8 million.

The city estimates the tax, which will take effect in 2018, could generate $2.16 million annually. The tax applies to personal and commercial vehicles.

Fadness said the council can amend the tax at any time, but even if state funding for road projects increases in the future, he believes the tax will still be needed.

The council approved the tax 7-0. Council members John Weingardt and Selina Stoller were not present.

“I’m not usually in favor of any kind of tax increase, but this is what I consider to be vital to the safety of our community,” council member Todd Zimmerman said.

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