Marshall County Developing Buggy Tax Ordinance

The Marshall County Commissioners could soon apply a tax to buggies used by Amish populations in Marshall County.

It was previous addressed by a member of the public – who said the wheels and horses that help the buggies operate can cause damage to the roadways. The Commissioners responded by traveling to Elkhart County last week.

Highway Department Administrator Laurie Baker attended the trip. She says Davies County charges $60 per buggy.

“They choose to have the Auditor’s office collect their fees and they do have a $10 late fee provision. And in both cases, both sums are receded into the [Motor Vehicle Highway Fund,] says Baker.”

In Elkhart County, a $50 fee is charged per buggy with a $17 trailer fee. Other counties charge similar fees.

The amount of revenue generated, however, depends on the number of buggies used in the county. In Elkhart county, about $5-thousand is gained. In LaGrange county, more than $470-thousand is infused.

The collection process was cited as a potential challenge. Commissioner Deb Griewank says Lake City Bank has branches in the eastern portion of Marshall County and could potentially assist with collections. Griewank says if an agreement goes through, the County would pay Lake City Bank $1 per license plate for collections.

“So we thought maybe we could offset the dollar and charge $51 [for buggies] if we would want to go with that fee,” says Griewank. “And if we would want to go with the $17 [trailer] fee, then we would be with $18. So that $1 extra would help offset paying the bank.”

The Commissioners have discussed a buggie tax for some time. One member of the board said that if the Amish use the roads, they should be paying taxes to support their construction and maintenance.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to begin developing an ordinance. A public hearing would be held on the matter prior to adoption.