‘Wheel tax’ to raise vehicle registration fees in talks

Tax could raise registration fees by $20

La Crosse county residents are speaking up about a proposed wheel tax that would increase vehicle registration fees.

The ‘Wheel  Tax’ would be used to fund road construction projects throughout the county. The county held a public forum Monday night in La Crosse for drivers to voice their concern.

If the ordinance is approved, drivers registered in La Crosse County who own a car weighing less than 8,000 pounds will see their registration fees go up by $20.

The county says there are nearly $83 million worth of road construction projects that are not yet funded in the county, and the additional $1.76 million each year would help change that. However, many residents are concerned about the fairness of the tax, especially about not taxing heavier vehicles.

“The weight of the vehicle is something we can’t change, that would require a change in state law. So, we really are charged with trying to figure out how do we pay the increasing cost of repair and maintenance to county roads,” said La Crosse County Board Chair Tara Johnson.

Many residents spoke out against the proposal at Monday night’s forum. One person says enough is enough when it comes to this kind of government taxing.

“I feel like the government as a whole is constantly looking for a way to increase taxes and it seems like it’s a less and less common place to look for cuts and you know to move stuff around, prioritize,” said La Crosse County Resident Erich Rathke.

No decision will be made on the ordinance until this December. If it’s approved, the county would begin collecting the fee in April of next year.

– Original Story –

If you have a vehicle registered in La Crosse County and your car weighs less than 8,000 pounds, a proposed ordinance could affect you. Residents and members of the county board gathered Monday to talk about an ordinance that would tack $20 on to the $75 car owners already pay in state registration fees.

Tom Monsoor has made his fair share of trips to the La Crosse County DMV.

“I’ve lived in La Crosse all of my life,” Monsoor said.

Monsoor is a commercial fisherman in La Crosse and pays around $300  in vehicle fees each year.

“I am use to buying stickers and renewing everything all the time. It’s what you have to do to have good roads,” Monsoor said.

Monsoor and other area residents who own the nearly 90,000 registered vehicles in La Crosse could see their fees increase next year to help pay for road construction; thanks to a proposed county ordinance.
“The cost of materials for building roads has far exceeded any ability for revenue to keep up and the gas tax and assistance from the federal government,” Steve O’Malley, a county administrator, said.

There are about $83 million worth of unfunded road needs in the county right now, including $39 million in rural areas and $31 million in or near cities and towns. The county wants registered vehicle owners to pay $20 each year to help pay for repairs to roads primarily in urban areas.

“Like the city of Onalaska, city of La Crosse and the villages, so that people generating the majority of fees would actually see the work being done,” O’Malley said.
The proposed fee would only add up to about $1.76 million of additional road funding each year, but O’Malley said it’s a step in the right direction.

“Without new revenue sources, we’re not going to catch up on the amount of road building that needs to be done,” O’Malley said.

If the ordinance is approved, Monsoor would end up paying $160 more.

“It doesn’t bother me as long as they keep fixing our roads,” Monsoor said.

An official vote by the board is set to happen in December.