Tax may crack down on issue

Earlier this fall, it was suggested to Brooke County commissioners that they should establish a county-level system of registering all-terrain vehicles. That could accomplish two things, the county Planning Commission suggested.

First, it could help enforce the requirement that personal property taxes be paid on ATVs. Second, requiring owners to pass safety classes and display county decals on their machines could curb hazardous and illegal use of ATVs.

State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Steven Dale quickly vetoed the idea. Dale said counties are not permitted to register motor vehicles, including ATVs. That is the state’s responsibility, he noted.

Well, yes. But failure of hundreds of ATV owners to register their vehicles and pay property taxes on them is a local concern. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue each year may be lost because of the problem.

No one likes to suggest new taxes – but property tax rules covering ATVs and other personal property have been on the books for many years. Some Brooke County ATV owners conscientiously pay their taxes.

It is part of the county assessor’s duties to ensure owners of property, both personal and real, pay their fair shares of taxes. In Brooke County, that may be a way to crack down on the scofflaws. It should be considered.