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Sunday, October 18, 2009
Ind. Law - Golf cart update; Federal golf cart subsidies
Time for another golf cart update, adding to this long list of earlier ILB golf cart entries.
Recent entries have been about cities and towns considering or adopting ordinances permitting use of golf carts, in accordance with the law passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.
Here are recent stories about two communities whose governing bodies decided NOT to allow golf uses on their streets:
- Franklin - Sarah Michalos of the Franklin Daily Journal reported Oct. 7th (the story is no longer available):
Franklin residents will not be allowed to drive golf carts around their neighborhoods or across city streets.
City council members voted 4-2 Monday to reject rules and safety measures that would allow people to continue using carts.
A state law effective in July banned golf carts unless they're on private property, but communities can write their own rules if they want to allow cart use.
Allowing golf carts on city streets is too dangerous, especially with the chance that a driver could collide with a vehicle, city council member William "Ted" Murphy said.
With more people trying to cut down on gas usage and become environmentally friendly, the city could see an influx of carts on its streets if an ordinance passed, member Ken Austin said.
State law says that people can drive carts on their own property. Carts also would be allowed in private areas, such as the Indiana Masonic Home and the Franklin United Methodist Community, Mayor Fred Paris said.
Use of Gators, Club Cars or other motorized vehicles, such as by Franklin College and the city's parks department, would be permitted as long as they are marked with a slow-moving-vehicle placard and a flashing light. By Indiana law, slow-moving vehicles can't travel more than 25 mph.
People who use motorized wheelchairs are exempt under a disability act.
- Warsaw - From the Oct. 8th Times Union, Jennifer Peryam reports:
Commission member and Warsaw Police Dept. Lt. Kip Shuter opened up the discussion on the golf cart ordinance by telling the board they've had two months to consider the issue. Commission members also had information regarding golf cart ordinances four municipalities approved.
The town of Syracuse has the most restrictions in their ordinance. A golf cart there must have a slow moving emblem, red or amber flashing light, headlights, taillights, rearview mirror and factory seating. A person driving a golf cart in Syracuse must have a valid driver's license and follow the rules of the road. Golf carts in the town may not be driven on the state highway or on sidewalks.
Tony Elliott, of Elliott's Cars & Carts, said Syracuse seems to have a few more rules. However, if a person is going to ride a golf cart on the roads, headlights, taillights and a rearview mirror should be mandatory.
Shuter said they talked about possibly allowing golf carts on certain roads, but the problem there is that the city has no road classification system. Without that system, the city is unable to say "on this kind of road, you can have one," he said.
City planner Jeremy Skinner said they could create a road classification map, but he didn't know how that would fit into the ordinance.
He said, currently, people may not drive golf carts on the streets because they don't know if they can do it or not. If an ordinance is approved, more people may end up driving the carts on the roads. The ordinance could be creating more of an issue. Shuter said the city doesn't have a problem with them now.
Elliott said most golf carts are used in neighborhoods and in camp grounds. "That's what they're normally used for," he said.
"I don't think there'll be a rush of people going out to buy them as a means of travel (if an ordinance is approved)," said Greg Scroeder, Warsaw Community Schools director of maintenance.
City councilman and commission member George Clemens said they could pass the ordinance and revisit it later if problems arise. Skinner said that could create more problems. If they pass an ordinance and allow people to have them, then change the ordinance, people may get mad because they went out and bought a golf cart.
"I personally see this as a nightmare enforcement issue," said Skinner later.
Councilman and commission member Jerry Patterson made the motion to take no action on the golf court issue, and it was approved by all board members.
The federal credit provides from $4,200 to $5,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, and when it is combined with similar incentive plans in many states the tax credits can pay for nearly the entire cost of a golf cart. Even in states that don't have their own tax rebate plans, the federal credit is generous enough to pay for half or even two-thirds of the average sticker price of a cart, which is typically in the range of $8,000 to $10,000. "The purchase of some models could be absolutely free," Roger Gaddis of Ada Electric Cars in Oklahoma said earlier this year. "Is that about the coolest thing you've ever heard?"Some of you may remember the federal tax break for SUVs - here is an ABC News story from 2003.
The golf-cart boom has followed an IRS ruling that golf carts qualify for the electric-car credit as long as they are also road worthy. These qualifying golf carts are essentially the same as normal golf carts save for adding some safety features, such as side and rearview mirrors and three-point seat belts. They typically can go 15 to 25 miles per hour. * * *
The IRS has also ruled that there's no limit to how many electric cars an individual can buy, so some enterprising profiteers are stocking up on multiple carts while the federal credit lasts, in order to resell them at a profit later. We should note that some states, such as Oklahoma, have caught on to the giveaway and are debating whether to cancel or limit their state credits. But in Congress they're still on the driving range.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 18, 2009 10:08 AM
Posted to Indiana Law