Tax increases being considered to fund road repairs in La Crosse County

If you live in La Crosse County your taxes could be going up to fund road repairs and maintenance.

The La Crosse County Board will meet Thursday to discuss possible referendum questions to go on the November ballot. Tara Johnson the La Crosse County Board of Supervisors Chair said,

“We have over $100 million in unmet road needs right now.”

Johnson said they need millions of dollars a year just to maintain area roads.

“We need about $5 million a year really to keep up with a maintenance plan and a construction plan that keeps our roads safe,” Johnson said.

In April 2017 voters in La Crosse County approved the Premier Resort Area Tax known as PRAT. The county is continuing to pursue that, but the state legislature hasn’t approved it yet.

“While we’re waiting because the state really didn’t do what we asked it to do in pursuit of the PRAT we still have road needs.”

So until PRAT, gets worked out the county wants to hear from voters how they want to pay for roads.

They’re considering asking two questions in November, if residents would prefer to pay an annual $56 registration tax per vehicle, also known as a wheel tax if they would rather have a one-time 15 percent increase in county property taxes.

“So it’s really giving voters the choice on which of those two approaches do they prefer that we as a county board pursue,” Johnson said.

News 8 asked two area residents which one they preferred and got two different answers.

La Crosse County Resident Connie Mumm said, “I would rather have the $56 fee.”

While La Crosse County Resident Amy Sanwick said, “I’d prefer to have a one shot fee. You know pay it once be done if you have multiple cars you’re paying multiple years. That way if you get it over with it’s done.”

The only thing they agreed on was that the roads needed to be repaired.

“I mean I bike a lot of places and I see I mean not just the biking but the driving there’s a lot that are in need of repair,” Mumm said.

“You avoid certain ways to go through town because the roads are so bad,” Sanwick said.

Both tax plans would get the county the $5 million it needs.

Currently the county only has around $2.5 million a year to repair roads, so both plans would nearly double the amount of funding they have.

The vehicle registration fee would only include cars. Motorcycles and trucks weighing more than 8,000 pounds would not be taxed.

So far in Wisconsin, eight other counties and 19 municipalities already have a wheel tax in place.