“An additional fee:” Milwaukee County exploring wheel tax to pay for buses, transportation projects

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- Is talk of a new tax more than just spinning wheels? The Milwaukee County Executive is proposing a few increases on vehicle registrations. The money would help fund transportation projects. How much would you pay?wheel tax

The 'Transportation, Public Works and Transit' committee will discuss the proposal on Wednesday, but the county board chairman says there's little support for a wheel tax.

Milwaukee County is facing a budget gap when it comes to transportation. According to a report released late last month, this year's budget requires nearly $24 million for capital projects. By 2020, the need increases to nearly $28 million.

"Transportation funding, particularly for transit, needs dedicated funding," said Milwaukee County Board Chairman, Theo Lipscomb.

Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb says the county needs to close the gap -- but a proposal by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele's office has more than just wheels spinning.Count executive

"It's an additional fee on your vehicle registrations," said Lipscomb.

Abele is proposing a so-called, "wheel tax" -- it's an increase to the fee you pay for annual vehicle registration. Lipscomb says the report floats the idea of an increase of up to $60, on top of the $75 motorists are already paying. That could generate about $33 million for the county.

Abele was not available for comment on Wednesday, but his spokeswoman issued the following statement:

"The County cannot rely on state and federal funding alone to fully fund our system's needs. [Abele] has been supportive of a dedicated funding source for transit infrastructure for a long time and is exploring the benefits of the only locally-available option -- the vehicle registration fee."

"The County Board in the past has rejected the idea of a wheel tax," said Lipscomb.

Lipscomb backs other tax increases as alternatives, an idea he says Abele has been strongly against.

"We've heard the effect on the average taxpayer was maybe $7 or $10 a year," said Lipscomb.

City of Milwaukee residents already pay a $20 wheel tax of their own. If this plan is approved, those residents would have to pay both taxes.

Click here for more on this story via the Milwaukee Business Journal. 


  • Nope

    Don’t the city residents already pay an extra $20 when we have to renew our plates($95 instead of $75)? Why increase it another $20?

  • Abele has no idea what he's doing

    Here’s an idea.. instead of more fees and taxes, how about not lying to us about why the Miller Park tax is STILL being collected when it was supposed to end in 2014 and putting that money to the roads and transportation instead of whatever hidden things the county is doing with it.

  • You Know Who You Are

    Maybe the Milwaukee thugs are carjacking people because they don’t want to pay another wheel tax?

  • marcus wilson

    these crummy pols when running for office are always about cutting costs but that changes after we foolishly elect them. how about cutting things in your budget or farming out services and using the cost savings to repair roads and maintain your precious busses. why not rid your budget of duplication of services or start a metropolitan government. think of all the savings you could have if you farmed out vechicle repairs for example. wages and bennies are the biggest cost to budgets. instead these hacks go the easy way out and try to burden the hardworking taxpayers because they are to scared to reduce costs. you are elected to make hard decisions in the county not to pass your idiotic ideas on the overburdened taxpayers. go back to your drawing board and reduce costs and keep your paws out of my wallet.


    They could tax beer a little higher in Milwaukee to 14 dollars a cup instead of 12 at all local events, lord we have some beer drinkers in Milwaukee.


    And so millions are being spent on a bus on rails. Deck out some buses to look like trolleys, change their routes to accommodate what ever is going on in town. All of the money being wasted to put tracks in to where they once were could be spent to benefit many. But we will have just another tax with limited results.

  • hate police

    we have to pay insurance car pay 20 dollars more for renew plates now another taxes that crzy no mony enough to pay a lot medicine food gas

  • Clinton

    Fruitcake abele thinks a lot like mayor mccheese. Why doesn’t the County Board ask someone in Milwaukee where their wheel tax money really goes. Knowing clueless barrett im certain it isn’t for it’s intended use because liberal democrats always find something else to waste tax dollars on.

  • Paul

    Abele floats this turd out there and then is too afraid to back it publicly? He has a spokesman do it. His spokesman wasn’t elected he was. Where are you hiding Abele? And why are you hiding?

  • Metal Maniac

    Sorry but not sorry… Wheel taxes are DUMB. It only encourages people to beat the system. What you can do is register to an old address when its time to pay registration. Then after you pay the $75 you just change your address to the correct address. It helps to have friends out of the city to make this work.

    Unless you made EVERYONE in Wisconsin pay the wheel tax, it won’t work. Do like they do in CA and base registration off car value, then you can collect your money and people won’t be able to bypass the system unless they want to risk getting pulled over.

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