New tax possible in Saluda 

Published 11:22 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Commissioners discussing up to $30 per vehicle tax for roads 


SALUDA—With city roads in need of repair and state Powell Bill funding decreasing for maintenance, Saluda residents may be looking at having to pay an additional automotive tax next year.  

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The Saluda Board of Commissioners met Monday and discussed the possibility of the new tax, which could be up to $30 per each registered vehicle.  

City finance officer Julie Osteen explained the possible tax, which she said commissioners discussed at the last budget retreat. Osteen said with Powell Bill money decreasing from the state, one alternative is an additional automotive tax. She said the tax can be up to $30 for each licensed vehicle and the city can either use all the funding towards streets or can use no more than $5 per vehicle for other city expenses.  

Whichever municipality in a county who first enacts the tax sets the standard for how much the tax will be, according to Osteen. Tryon and Columbus do not have the tax, so if Saluda sets it first and Tryon and Columbus decide to enact it later, whatever dollar amount Saluda sets will be what Columbus and Tryon have to match.  

“If Tryon or Columbus decides to do that down the road, they would have to match us,” Osteen said. “If we do $25, they are also limited to $25. If they go first at $15, then we have to do $15.”  

Commissioner Paul Marion asked if Saluda enacted $30, could the city ever reduce that amount.  

Osteen said she thinks once the dollar limit is set, that is what it will be.  

The amount of money Saluda could collect given the latest motor vehicle information from Polk and Henderson counties is $18,750, according to Osteen. The tax, if enacted, would be added to the costs of renewing the registration and paying the taxes on the vehicle.  

Commissioners will hold their next budget meeting on April 22. The board will need to approve a resolution in order to enact the tax and alert the tax departments to administer the new tax.   

Commissioners directed city attorney Jana Berg to go ahead and prepare a resolution so the board can potentially vote on it during its May meeting, scheduled for Monday, May 13.