At its next meeting on July 17, the Eau Claire County Board is expected to consider an ordinance to implement a $30 annual vehicle registration fee to pay for road improvements. Its aim is to improve quality ratings on county highways significantly enough to reduce ongoing and long-term maintenance costs related to poor road conditions.
County officials say a careful analysis of alternatives has led to the proposal, taking into account the current condition of county highways, the unsustainability of continued debt increases to finance road work, and why a registration fee is the most feasible way to pay for it. The proposal was drafted after being jointly considered by the County Board's Highway and Budget & Finance committees.
There are 421 miles of county-maintained highways. As part of the proposal, the County Board would adopt a goal of increasing its average PASER rating -- the measure of the quality of county roads -- to 6.0. That's the level at which County Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson says roads would last longer and be cheaper to maintain in the long run. $6 million in funding would be needed annually to reach a condition rating of 6 in 10 years.
Also known as a "wheel tax," the fee would be paid by automobiles and light trucks. State law restricts the tax from being applied to buses, motorcycles, mopeds, motor homes and trucks registered over 8,000 pounds or as a farm vehicle.
Special county web page about the registration fee proposal, with PowerPoints, FAQ, etc.
Eau Claire County wheel tax idea gains support (Leader-Telegram)
Proposed Eau Claire County $30 wheel tax too high? (Leader-Telegram)
More state aid would follow proposed wheel tax for Eau Claire County (Leader-Telegram)
Eau Claire County considers $30 wheel tax (WEAU TV 13 News)
Posted by: Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director