Wheel tax is growing in popularity as a way for cities and counties to pay for road work. Here are the basics about the revenue stream.
Sari Lesk/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY – A path to a wheel tax in Green Bay may be emerging as elected leaders try for the third time to find more money for street repairs.
Aldermen Chris Wery and Tom Sladek, who have previously opposed efforts to enact a wheel tax, told the Press-Gazette they would be open to discussing a tax that’s cheaper than earlier versions.
Alderman Joe Moore also said he, Wery and Sladek have reached a consensus in principle on key elements of a wheel tax.
What it means: There could now be enough votes on the Council to enact a wheel tax by year’s end.
Council members rejected a $20 wheel tax in a narrow vote in August, and just this past week, a panel of aldermen removed the tax from Green Bay’s 2018 budget.
The Council is scheduled to take up the budget on Tuesday, and while it’s possible the tax as proposed could find its way back into the spending plan, that isn’t likely.
Wery said he’s exploring a $15 wheel tax separate from the budget with several conditions. Under his plan, the city would have to double the amount of streets that it improves each year and the money would have to be used only for roadwork.
That’s not what had been proposed earlier. The $20 tax considered in August called for using tax revenues to also help pay for alley resurfacing, bridge maintenance and repairs to railroad crossings, among other infrastructure improvements.
“I want solid guarantees that we’re going to aggressively address some of our poor roads,” Wery said.
Wery said his proposal would eliminate the need for costly special assessments of residential properties, but could keep assessments of commercial properties. Under state law, most commercial vehicles are exempt from wheel taxes.
Special assessments are fees the city imposes on property owners when a road abutting their property is replaced or repaired. Those bills can be substantial, often running into the thousands of dollars.
As for Sladek, he…