Golf cart drivers will be required to register their vehicles.

Portland City Council on Monday approved updates to the city’s ordinance regarding golf carts to require an inspection and registration fee in order to be allowed to drive the vehicles on city streets.

The fee will be $35 for Portland residents and $18 for non-residents, such as those who visit the community for the Tri-State Antique Gas Engine and Tractor Show in August. Golf carts will be inspected to make sure they comply with the city’s regulations and then owners will be issued a sticker that must be displayed on the vehicle. Registrations will be good for one year — May 1 through April 30. It will also be an opportunity to remind drivers of regulations regarding who is allowed to drive the vehicles, how many passengers are allowed and other issues.

Council discussed various issues, including what vehicles the ordinance covers. It applies to golf carts only, with city attorney Wes Schemenaur noting that other vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs are registered through Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Council member Matt Goldsworthy argued for a flat rate rather than a separate rate for out-of-town users. McClung countered, saying he wants to make sure visitors who are in the city for just a week or so are treated fairly under the new rules.

Both, however, supported the implementation of a fee.

“To me what we’re looking at doing is we’re looking at getting these vehicles registered in case they’re stolen and to make sure that they know the rules of the road,” said Goldsworthy.

“And right now we’re asking the police to enforce this rule and we’re not getting any money out of (golf cart users),” added McClung later. “I think registration is important since there’s so many.”

Boggs said the $35 fee is less than many surrounding communities charge, saying the fee is $50 in Hartford City and $45 in Albany.

Fort Recovery charges a $50 fee for new inspections and a $20 fee for renewals.

Council members Janet Powers, Don Gillespie, Michele Brewster, Mike Aker, Dave Golden, McClung and Goldsworthy unanimously approved the fees, with a target date of June 1 to put them into effect.

Money generated by the fees will go into the city’s police training fund.

Council also approved tax abatements for Priority Plastics and FCC (Indiana) following the recommendation of the city’s tax abatement advisory committee.

Priority Plastics is receiving a five-year tax abatement on $6.6 million in new equipment. Travis Richards of Jay County Development Corp. said the abatement will save the company about $232,000.

FCC will receive a three-year tax abatement on $589,000 in equipment, saving it about $15,000. The new equipment is expected to create about 15 new jobs.

Also Monday, council unanimously approved donating $5,000 to Arts Place to support concerts this summer at the Hudson Family Park amphitheatre. Boggs noted that Arts Place and The Portland Foundation already have $7,500 set aside for concerts with two on the schedule already and plans to add more.

“This mixes some of my favorite things,” said McClung. “You’ve got the park system and Hudson Family Park, which is great, with entertainment.”

“It is a great, great venue and we need to use it as much as we possibly can,” added Boggs.
-30-