Expenses for Norwalk motorists just went up: City council OKs license plate tax

Cary Ashby • Updated Mar 9, 2017 at 12:10 AM

Norwalk city council approved two separate pieces of legislation Tuesday — an annual license plate tax and allowing the consumption of alcohol on city property.

There was no discussion about the two-part annual license plate tax. It will be a $5 flat fee on each vehicle owned by a city resident. The money will go toward the permissive tax roadway improvement fund and will be used for road construction or paving.

Councilman Chris Mushett voted against both ordinances while Councilman Kelly Beck was against one of them. 

Mushett, after the meeting, said council was asked to vote on a new tax that didn’t require any feedback from the public and he heard from several residents who were concerned about the fairness and others who said the tax might be a financial hardship.

“Most taxes are voted on by the people and this one wasn’t,” he added.

Beck’s difficulty with the legislation is how it will be used.

“If 100 percent of it was going to the roads, I would have no problem with it, but it’s not. We were told one thing and it’s actually something else,” he said after the meeting.

Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan, in an interview Monday, said the legislation is restricted to infrascture and road improvements and while it’s an attempt to raise revenue for Norwalk, he also said “it doesn’t mean we’ll be paving new roads.”

Since both ordinances passed, that means license plate fees will increase by $10. City officials have estimated it will generate about $174,000 each year, based on the number of people who live in Norwalk who buy license plates.

In other action Tuesday, council passed a two-part ordinance involving the consumption of alcohol on city property.

One part allows an organization to sell alcohol with a temporary permit at a public event, such as a festival. The other section of the proposed legislation covers serving alcohol on city property in a restricted area by permit only. 

During the public events, the organizations must have a liquor license and follow the mandates of the state liquor board. Norwalk Safety-Service Director Dan Wendt said an off-duty Norwalk police officer in uniform will need to provide security during the hours that alcohol is being served. Police will be paid at the same overtime rate as they are at athletic events — $37.50 an hour.

As for restricted-area alcohol consumption on city property, Wendt said the city wants to renovate the clubhouse at Veterans Memorial Lake Park and turn it into an 80-person reception hall. By passing the legislation, Wendt said Norwalk could increase the value of its rental property.

Councilwoman Deb Lucal voted against the legislation. 

Councilman Steve Schumm, before voting, said he was skeptical about the “can of worms” the city was opening by allowing alcohol consumption and sales. He requested quarterly reports from Wendt, who will issue the temporary liquor licenses, so council can see how many applications there will be.

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