County officials are looking at tweaking the wheel tax.

I don’t envy them this task, because it’s kind of a no-win. If they change things to generate more revenue, they catch heck for raising taxes. If they don’t, there won’t be enough money for repairs and they’ll catch heck for the condition of the roads.

So far, however, I think they’re on the right path. The good thing here is that they’re taking time to allow for public input. They don’t have to have everything dialed in and sent to the state until Sept. 1, and a public hearing is set for 6 p.m. June 13.

If you care about such things, go to the hearing and voice your concerns.

My feeling about wheel taxes – or any tax based on usage, for that matter – is those who use the service most should carry the biggest burden.

I think the original wheel tax, passed five years ago, missed the mark a bit in that regard. Back then, I had a little 4X6 cargo trailer I used to haul band gear. I was being assessed the same tax as a semi trailer – $40. Clearly, the semi trailer causes a lot more wear and tear on the road than did my little cargo trailer.

The new proposal addresses that fairly obvious inequity.

It calls for the following:

• Trucks 7,000-11,000 pounds, automobiles and motorcycles, the proposal is to increase the tax from $25 to $35.

• Semi trailers, semi trucks, farm semi trailers and farm semi trucks, the proposal is a $20 increase from $40 to $60.

• Trailers under 7,000 pounds reduced from $40 to $25.

The committee that looked into this wheel tax adjustment also expressed some concerns about charging the same amount for cars and motorcycles.

I share that concern. Seems to me motorcycles cause much less wear and tear than cars.

So going forward, I have a high degree of confidence the county will find a balance and come up with a wheel tax that will be more equitable than the current one.

But, in the meantime, may I ask one rhetorical question? Don’t horse-drawn buggies have wheels?

Indiana does not require registration fees for horse-drawn buggies. They are only required to display a slow-moving vehicle symbol. Seems to me that if these vehicles are using the roads and creating wear and tear, they should be part of the repair process. Frankly, the wear and tear caused by horse-drawn buggies is significant.

Since buggies aren’t motorized, they can’t be a part of the wheel tax debate. But certainly owners of buggies could help provide much needed revenue for the county’s roads.

County officials have broached the topic of fees for buggies in the past, but have never taken action. Right now, buggies get a free pass. Perhaps now is the time for the county commissioners to reconsider some sort of buggy fee.

This is not a unique idea.

Here’s the lede from a March 2, 2017, story in the Decatur Daily Democrat:

To make it easier for Amish residents of Adams County to buy $60 license plates and $60 registration stickers for their horse-drawn buggies, the commissioners agreed with County Highway Superintendent Lonnie Caffee Tuesday to have the plates and stickers be sold at the highway department office in Monroe on two extra days, both Saturdays: March 25 and April 8, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Several other counties in Indiana have similar ordinances in place.

Granted, this would not generate a windfall of revenue, but every little bit helps and, in my view, it clears up another inequity.