NO Wheel Tax

Charlotte Toth, Linda Yuds and Jack Yuds attend the Dec. 4 Beaver Dam Common Council meeting with signs opposing a proposed "wheel tax" for vehicles registered in the city.

Beaver Dam Common Council members heard the first reading Monday night for a potential “wheel tax” for vehicles registered in the city.

A wheel tax would impose a fee on vehicles that weigh 8,000 pounds or less. If approved, the city would then discuss the tax with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The wheel tax would be collected with annual vehicle registration fees. WisDOT would keep an administrative fee of 17 cents per vehicle.

As of Monday night, the wheel tax is being called the “municipal vehicle registration fee.”

The second reading and a public hearing on the registration fee will occur at the next Common Council meeting on Dec. 18.

Three residents attended the council meeting holding signs that read “NO Wheel Tax.” One of those residents, Charlotte Toth, said that she wasn’t aware that the wheel tax issue had been renamed the municipal vehicle registration fee.

Ritchie Piltz, the city’s director of facilities and engineering, gave a presentation on street funding and the registration fee. He said that this needs to be discussed as an option whether the fee is approved or not.

Piltz told the council that the registration fee is being considered because of state-imposed levy limits, stagnant state transportation funding, costs for road improvements keep rising and that the city is falling being in the ability to maintain streets.

According to Piltz, streets in the city were designed to only last 15 to 30 years and some of those streets are more than than 45 years old.

If the city were to implement a $20-per-vehicle tax, it could generate an estimated $280,000 annually for the city, which could then go toward city street projects like seal coating and reconstruction. According to Piltz, typical bids for street projects range from $140,000 to $169,000 per 300 feet of concrete. Piltz added that all money collected from this must be used only for transportation-related purposes.

According to the city, the registration fee could apply to 12,000 to 14,000 registered vehicles.

Piltz said that antique, collector, ex-prisoner of war, historic military, hobbyist, Medal of Honor, motorcycles, mopeds, motor homes and trailers would be exempt from the registration fee.

Currently there are 17 municipalities and five counties that impose a local vehicle-registration fee in Wisconsin.

Discussions related to a registration fee in Beaver Dam began in October when city council members in the Operations Committee talked about this a potential source of revenue for city street projects.

Ben Rueter covers Beaver Dam, Horicon and Juneau city governments for the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen.