To the editor:
These remarks are about what this writer considers to be unfair, the "wheel tax." It is not a true user fee, for it only taxes up to four wheels, not all of them.
Vehicle license fees are set by the state according to weight and age. Now get this. From 1977 to 1999, that's 22 years the Legislature would not increase the fees. Counties receive a portion of these fees and lobbied a long time for an increase. The Legislature lacked the backbone to increase the fees, but in 1985 gave the counties a wheel tax authority of $2 per wheel with a max of four wheels.
Then in 1994 the Legislature still didn't have the courage to increase the license fees and gave the counties the authority to charge $4 per wheel. The next step would be $6.
Forty-two percent of Clay County's property tax collections comes from inside Vermillion. The vast majority of a wheel tax would come from the city. Has anyone inquired as to the amount of this tax that would be remitted to the city? Plans are for a pittance.
Big trucks damage roads more than small cars. Why should they be taxed the same? Now, have you ever heard of a Chevy Cavalier or a Ford Escort rutting or otherwise damaging our roads or being cited for overweight?
It's the heavy vehicles that require our roads and bridges to be built extra strong and can damage them. To tax a 10- or 12-wheel heavy truck the same as a small car/pickup is unfair.
The state should raise vehicle license fees and also send part of the motor fuel tax to the counties.
So, if you want to dump the wobbly wheel tax on Aug. 28, vote no to reject it.
Paul M. Hasse
Wheel tax needed
To the editor:
The wheel tax is necessary. Our Clay County costs are going up also, just as they are for all citizens. A large part of this is caused by the high oil prices. What are our roads made of? Oil by-products.
The wheel tax will help to cover some of this expense. I, for one, like the roads in Clay County, but they need work and some need to be replaced. The wheel tax will come back to our budget 100 percent and it will all go for road work.
The maximum you will pay is $8 on a vehicle under 2,000 pounds and $16 on vehicles over 2,001 pounds.
All citizens of Clay County have to use the county roads at some time and this is a fair way to acquire this expenditure.
Clay County Commissioner
A great fair
To the editor:
In regard to the Clay County Fair in Vermillion: Yes, it is small, but it is a wonderful thing for the kids in 4-H. At least they have something.
If you want to go to a really great fair, go to the Clay County Fair at Spencer, IA. It is large and has something for everyone. There is a lot of good entertainment in the grand stand – every afternoon and evening. It is a wonderful, neat, clean fair. I look forward to going to it every year! This year it starts Sept. 8 and goes for nine days.
Hyperion fails to communicate
To the editor:
Now let's see. If you can't get farmers to sell you land to build an oil refinery, maybe you should hint that some one may build an ethanol plant or fertilizer plant. Then just maybe you will trick a few more into signing the options where they lose total control of their ground for the next three years.
By the way, let's throw a picnic to be social and to say your family-owned company now has enough land to proceed, but then announce the next day, of course, that you don't really have enough land, since you don't have any of the one-to-two mile buffer zone you promised.
Since everyone supposedly knows now what you want to build and although the state of South Dakota no longer needs to keep all your secrets, it might be a good time to really let the local residents voice their thoughts to you.
We challenge you to voluntarily modify your already executed option agreements to allow land owners the right to decide if they want to renew the options or at least be able to tell their neighbors what they really think and want for the neighborhood.
But then if you really want to be a good neighbor and citizen, you could just pick up the phone and talk to those of us who are most concerned in an attempt to reach the best possible solution for all involved.
Vermillion�s own returning to S.D.
To the editor:
United States Senator Tim Johnson, whose hometown is Vermillion, will be returning to the state on Tuesday, Aug. 28, after an extended absence due to illness. His homecoming speech will take place at the Sioux Falls Arena and Convention Center at 1211 N. West Avenue in Sioux Falls, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Vermillion area residents are encouraged to attend to welcome Tim and his family home to South Dakota. Those who are able to make the trip to Sioux Falls are asked to meet at the entrance to Ballroom B at the Convention Center at 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28. The Vermillion delegation will be able to enter as a group at this time.
Please call the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company at 624-5571 to place your name on the list for preferential entry with the Vermillion group at no charge.
Your attendance is solicited and encouraged as we offer Tim a show of support from his hometown and a big welcome home!
Mayor of Vermillion
It�s Vermillion�s Gorilla, too.
To the editor:
After months of secrecy, the so-called Gorilla Project has been unmasked. Twenty square miles of prime farmland could become a refinery zone for low-grade crude oil, piped from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.
What many Vermillion and Clay County residents don�t realize is that the proposed Hyperion oil refinery would actually be closer to Vermillion than to Elk Point. The �buffer zone� begins just across the county line near the intersection of highways 50 and I-29. Ground Zero, the center of over 12,000 acres targeted by the Texas corporation, is eight miles from Vermillion.
Hyperion claims that the proposed refinery would be �green,� that it would not pollute water, land or air. Yet history demonstrates otherwise; extracting fuels from heavy sour crude is among the heaviest of industrial processes. Hyperion has provided no details to show how this facility would be different from the scores of existing refineries around the nation, none of which could be called environmentally friendly.
The citizen group, Save Union County, recently brought Denny Larson, coordinator for the National Refinery Reform Campaign, to speak about the ways a megarefinery and its coke-fired power plant would change life as we know it in southeast South Dakota. There are many questions: What will Hyperion do with millions of gallons of polluted Missouri River water? How many trucks and pipelines will it take to bring crude and distribute fuel? Are we ready to accept hazardous waste and toxic air?
Larson advised residents to focus on two central issues: First, every existing refinery pollutes air, water, soil, darkness and tranquility. � ?Green� is a PR concept,� Larson said. �No other refinery has ever made such a claim.� If Hyperion has a plan nobody has heard of, let them spell it out.
Second, crude oil contains, and the refining process produces, scores of chemicals; only a few go into gasoline and diesel fuel. What will Hyperion do with the rest, substances extremely hazardous to health, including benzene and other carcinogenic substances and heavy metals, such as mercury?
Ironically, South Dakota has the second highest wind energy potential in the nation, and that potential has hardly been tapped. Instead of allowing the first fossil fuel factory in 30 years to be built here, we could move toward leadership in truly green energy production.
Before South Dakota sacrifices thousands of acres of productive farmland, clean water and air, and the peace of a quiet, starry night, we need much more information about all the ways, positive and negative, that the proposed refinery would change our way of life. Some of that information is available at RefineryReform.org and at ElkPointGorilla.com.
But remember, this is not just an Elk Point/Union County issue. Pollution doesn�t stop at the county line.