The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Syble Vaughan-Trent, and it only affects disabled property owners 65 and older who are actively on the state’s Tax Relief Program.
Those eligible citizens would receive one vehicle exemption from the $40 wheel tax increase that went into effect in October of 2017.
County Clerk Nancy Davis noted that the impact of the proposed wheel tax exemption would be a revenue decrease of $48,800 from wheel tax collections.
Commissioner Valerie Goins expressed concern about cutting revenue from the 2018-19 budget, which is already using about $95,000 in savings to balance.
“That means if we did this (exemption) mid-stream we’re probably going to have to take more money out of our fund balance,” Goins told the commission Monday. “Personally I think it would be better to wait until we have the (2019-20) budget hearings in May and at that time look at it.”
Budget Committee Chairman John Metz noted that the original intent of the commission when it approved the $40 wheel tax increase last year was to eventually be able to “wean” itself off that increase as other revenue sources improved.
The $40 wheel tax increase was intended to offset a $2 million revenue deficit that had been addressed in previous years by dipping into savings until there wasn’t enough savings to cover it in 2017-18.
“I think we need to look at a broader range, across-the-board abatement of a certain amount, possibly $10, as soon as we possibly could do that,” Metz said. “That’s going to $400,000 to $450,000, so we definitely want to find some offsetting entry to account for that.”
Vaughan-Trent opposed a motion to table her resolution, noting that the cost of the cuts could be offset by one-time-only expenditures in the budget that won’t take place in 2018-19.
But Commissioner Dawson Fields’ motion to table the resolution and refer it to the Budget Committee was approved 19-2 with Vaughan-Trent and Charles Housewright opposed.
Any changes to the wheel tax levy must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the full commission, requiring a minimum of 14 votes at two consecutive meetings.
“I think it’s got a good purpose and good intentions, but I also realize there are some issues with this resolution, and some questions that may be asked tonight that I would not have the correct answers,” Barrett said.
Barrett forwarded the resolution to the Health Insurance Committee, of which he is a member, in hopes of possibly having a recommendation for the full commission in time to consider for the 2019-20 budget.
No more morning meetings
The commission voted 17-3 with one abstention to eliminate morning meetings, with all 12 monthly meetings to begin at 6 p.m. as of January of 2019.
That change didn’t affect the quarterly morning meetings that started at 9 a.m. in January, April, July and October. But with the commission vote Monday, those meetings will now start at 6 p.m. as well.
Commissioners Keith Gibson, Goins and Glenda Davis voted no, and Syble Vaughan-Trent abstained.