Update: County Board approves tax, 20-9 at its July 17 meeting
Eau Claire County's proposed $30 annual vehicle registration fee has generated a wide-ranging debate since its introduction at the County Board's June meeting.
County officials are considering the addition of the fee to fund improvements to the county's highway system to save on maintenance costs and reduce the need for debt. Although less than the price of a tank of gas, the proposed $30 rate would match Milwaukee County as the state's highest local wheel tax. State law give counties and municipalities the power to levy a fee of up to $50 annually on automobiles if spent on roads.
The fee is up for consideration at the board meeting on July 17 at 7:00 p.m.
Critics and reaction from municipalities
One critic of the proposed fee is former Leader-Telegram Editor Don Huebscher, who argued in a July 8 column, Resist quick vote on wheel tax, that the fee is regressive, is an unfair subsidy of rural roads by city residents, and "lets state lawmakers off the hook for not doing their jobs and addressing this issue at the state level." Then, the City Councils of both Eau Claire and Altoona weighed in, asking the County to consult with them and consider a sharing of revenues because of the proportions of registered vehicles, street miles in those municipalities, and its impact on any prospects for their levying future wheel taxes of their own.
County leaders: Wheel tax one of few options available to maintain quality roads
In the same issue of the Leader-Telegram, County Finance & Budget Chair Stella Pagonis wrote, "The county vehicle registration fee is one of the few options available to county supervisors to provide a source of revenue to improve the road system. It is important to maintain our roadway system for the betterment of the community, and the wheel tax is the best proposed method to achieve this." Board member answers wheel tax questions (Leader Telegram)
Want to contact your county board member? If you live in Eau Claire County, here's how:
More information: Support for $30-per-vehicle registration fee wavers (Leader-Telegram), City requests meeting with county on proposed wheel tax (Leader-Telegram), Altoona City Council questions $30 for wheel tax (Leader-Telegram), Eau Claire County Board To Consider Vehicle Registration Fee (Chamber Blog), Eau Claire County wheel tax Informational web page
Posted by: Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.