AUBURN – A public hearing on a horse-drawn vehicle ordinance will be postponed for another week, DeKalb County commissioners agreed Monday.
During the commissioners’ meeting last week, their attorney, Jim McCanna, offered a draft ordinance, based on discussions and a Nov. 14 public hearing, for the commissioners’ review.
The proposed ordinance calls for a $200 plate fee for horse-drawn vehicles. Funds generated from the sale of the plates would be used to repair roads that are damaged by horse-drawn vehicles.
The lighting requirements speech still needs to be worked on and should be ready for commissioners’ review by next Monday, December 5th.
Commissioners had originally planned to hold a public hearing on the ordinance on that date. Instead, they plan to approve the ordinance on first reading. A public hearing is now planned for Dec. 12, along with the second and final reading of the ordinance.
Those who do not comply with the plate requirement would be assessed a $200 fee, as well as an additional $200 fine, for a total of $400, commissioners proposed. There would be no discounts for multiple plates, they agreed.
When passed, the ordinance is expected to go into effect early next year. The payment fee would be annual, based on a calendar year and prorated monthly.
The term “horse-drawn vehicle” does not include horse-drawn farm implements, according to the proposed ordinance.
On Monday, commissioners revisited the idea of giving exemptions to 501(c) nonprofits like the DeKalb County Horsemen’s Association.
“I have a little problem with that. … You’re almost always going to have the Horsemen who are the driving force wanting to do that, just driving within the city limits, mostly from Auburn and maybe sometimes Butler,” McCanna said.
Allowing a waiver for a 501(c) organization would give an “outer” to anyone who could form a 501(c), including a church, McCanna explained.
“The problem with 501(c)s is you have a lot of Amish people who know how to form a religious organization and it’s going to be a 501(c). And so you’re going to give an out to anyone who drives a horse,” he said.
“It’s easy to say 501(c), but you immediately created a way for certain people to get around just by forming a church,” McCanna added.
“How does the Horsemen’s Association get their vehicles, or their carts and horses to Auburn or Butler? Do they drive them or put them in a trailer and transport them? The reason I say that if they’re mostly just doing parades and town fair time and stuff like that, they’re not going to be on county roads anyway. They will be on city roads,” said Commissioner Todd Sanderson.
Commissioners also discussed charging nonprofits a minimum fee, but agreed to leave the proposed ordinance as is and not include an exemption.
“After thinking about it … it would be better to just say ‘pay the tax’ and we’re sorry, but keep it simple,” Sanderson said.