Public asked to weigh in on wheel tax Jan. 9

Proposed $20-per-vehicle levy estimated to generate $200,000 annually for roads to be presented at meeting

    Port Washington officials will seek the public’s input on a proposed wheel tax during a 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, meeting at City Hall.
    The meeting, which will follow the Board of Public Works meeting at 5:30 p.m., will open with a presentation on the wheel tax, with residents invited to provide their opinions after that.
    Ald. John Sigwart asked the Common Council to consider holding the meeting in the library’s community room, but City Administrator Mark Grams noted that it could not be televised then.
    Although the meeting is tentatively set to last one hour, it could be extended past that time, officials said.
    The $20 annual wheel tax was proposed by Mayor Tom Mlada last month as a way to supplement the city’s road repair efforts.
    Everyone acknowledges that street repairs are a priority, Mlada said, but costs continue to increase while the city’s budget is lean, state aids are declining and levy limits mean the city can’t tax more for roadwork.
    The city borrows about $800,000 annually for road construction, while officials estimate they need $1 million annually to keep up with its roadwork.
    The $200,000 Mlada estimated the city would collect annually would make up that difference, he said, paying to resurface two-thirds of a mile of street, resurface and replace the curb along one-third mile or completely reconstruct almost two city blocks.
    The $20 per vehicle fee would be collected by the State Department of Transportation when drivers renew their license plates each year.
    While Mlada had urged the Common Council to enact the wheel tax as soon as possible when he introduced the idea last month, aldermen were not as enthused about the concept.
    According to the Department of Transportation, 19 communities and six counties in the state charge a wheel fee. They range from small communities such as Gillett and Lodi to large cities like Sheboygan, Beloit and Milwaukee.
    Communities determine how much the wheel fee is — it ranges from $10 in Tigerton, Iron Ridge and Kaukauna to $30 in Milton and Milwaukee County — and whether to set a sunset date for the tax. Daily



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