Public Comment Invited On Proposed Bridge Tax In Tippecanoe County

May 9, 2016

This bridge over the Wildcat Creek on Tippecanoe County road 200 South tops the county's list of large spans that need to be replaced.
Credit Chris Morisse Vizza

Property owners will have an opportunity next month to comment on the Tippecanoe County Board of Commissioners' plan to create a new property tax to fund major bridge projects.

Board President Dave Byers says county leaders will likely set a maximum tax rate at about 1 cent per $100 assessed valuation.

County Auditor Bob Plantenga says the property tax increase would trigger state-mandated tax caps, which would in turn, reduce Lafayette’s tax revenue by about $54,000 a year and West Lafayette’s by about $34,000 annually.

Commission President Dave Byers says the impact on the three public school districts would be even less.

“The amount of money that they might lose could be anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000,” he says. “We’re really not talking major dips in their funds.”

The bridge tax was first discussed in March, and Byers says the commissioners haven’t heard from any residents.

“We’ve got to take care of our bridges,” he says. “And they know that as long as their funds are going to take care of something, that’s the best thing to do about it.”

County Highway Director Opal Kuhl recommended county leaders adopt the tax now, and gradually build up the $14 million needed to replace four of the county’s 27 large bridges slated to be replaced 20 years from now.

A public hearing is set for 10 a.m. Monday, June 6, at Tippecanoe County Office Building, 20 N. Third Street in Lafayette.

County attorney Doug Masson says the commissioners may vote to adopt the bridge fund at the meeting.  The county council would set the tax rate in August when it adopts a budget for next year.