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Chris Abele’s SAVE Transit Plan would create $60/year vehicle registration fee

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- Owning and operating a car in Milwaukee County could soon cost you more -- that's if Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele gets his way. Abele revealed on Thursday, September 29th his SAVE Transit Plan, a plan he believes will generate dedicated funding for transit, preserve the GO Pass, and invest in the future with Bus Rapid Transit. Some argue, it's just spinning wheels.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

FOX6 News first told you about the proposed wheel tax in July. Now, it's one step closer to reality.

"A $60 per year vehicle registration fee. Which averages out to $5 per month," said Abele.

Abele says the SAVE Transit Plan is a cornerstone of his 2017 proposed budget -- a budget which will be released in its entirety on Friday, September 30th. The county executive's office says SAVE recognizes the transit system is a priority and "it must be Sustainable, Affordable, Visionary, and Efficient."

"For the past five years, we have not raised fares. We haven't cut routes," said Abele. abele2

The county executive's office says the first component of the SAVE Transit Plan is a dedicated source of funding for transit, through a $60 per year vehicle registration fee (VRF). Officials say a VRF is the only revenue option legally available to the county and will generate approximately $27 million in revenue per year. Unlike a sales tax increase, no additional state approval is required for Milwaukee County to implement a vehicle registration fee.

"The only tool we have to address it is a vehicle registration fee," Abele said.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

The county executive's office says revenue generated by the VRF will also go towards operating costs related to preserving the GO Pass. Officials say nearly 25 percent of all transit riders currently use a GO Pass to receive free rides. The county executive's office says "going forward, individuals who receive the GO Pass will pay a one-time $5 fee to cover the issuance of the GO Pass card and will pay a 25 cent per ride fare." As well, eligibility for the GO Pass will now be in line with eligibility for other government programs. To qualify for the GO Pass, seniors and individuals with disabilities must also be eligible for SSI, SSDI, EBD, or FoodShare.

"We just have to keep transit going. There are a lot of people who are depending on it," said Patricia Lidicker, bus rider.

County Supervisor Michael Mayo says not everybody is eager to hop on this bus.

"C'mon! I know that we need revenue. I want transportation to keep going, but that is really a lot," said Mayo.

Mayo, who is also the chairman of the Transportation Committee, does not support the wheel tax. He says it's going to be a tough sell to the County Board. Mayo says the board has yet to see the proposal.

"You're hitting the residents of Milwaukee double! On a wheel tax," said Mayo.

All motor vehicle owners pay a $75 state vehicle registration. City of Milwaukee residents currently pay a $20 wheel tax of their own. If you factor in this proposed $60 fee, folks in the city will pay $155 a year just to operate their cars.

"Come on Chris. No more taxes on wheels," said Mayo.

Abele's office says the final component to the SAVE Transit Plan is an investment in Bus Rapid Transit. They say it "will efficiently and affordably connect more people to more jobs while helping create a climate that attracts new businesses and new workers to Milwaukee." Abele's proposed budget includes just under $44 million for the next steps on BRT.

The Milwaukee County Board will have their first official look at Abele's budget proposal next week.


  • Melissa

    Why should people who do not use the bus pay for the bus? We already pay enough money to register our cars here in Milwaukee. So now it is going to cost over $100 a year to register my vehicle? Ridiculous. Stop giving away free rides and creating this fast line. Maybe take the money for this train to nowhere to fix the transit issues instead of adding more fees to people who don’t use the transit system.

  • Always Outspoken

    So Abele wants to charge yet another fee to live in a city with rampant crime, lousy schools, declining services, and a poor outlook for the future, huh?

    Say goodbye to even more residents and businesses, Milwaukee.

  • Huh !

    And does anyone wonder why civil servants don’t don’t want to live in Milwaukee County …. I don’t want to live in Milwaukee County anymore, but I can’t afford to move ! I’m retired, disabled, PHYSICALLY CAN’T take the bus and live on a small fixed income and yet I’d be expected to pay ? Get your head out of your a$$ and hands off my wallet Abele !
    Oh, while I’m at it…..who pays the registration on the vehicles you drive ? Do you have a city car ?

  • Hillary

    Clueless leadership. Quit running empty buses throughout the city. There is no way this money would ever be used for what it is intended for. Once again, people like Abele can never find a way to cut, just keep raising those fees.

  • Clemenza

    That’s what happens. Democrats have been at it in Milwaukee for decades now. They eventually will tax everyone out of the city. Very big liberal fail here folks. Vote yourselves out of poverty, vote for the best candidate that isn’t liberal.

  • coonio

    Liberals are like pit bulls. They don’t bite or rip you in pieces, you can trust them while you sleep with your neck exposed as well.

  • Rj

    To get money start stopping the people that don’t have current plate registrations $75 available there and give them tickets which would add more revue

  • confused

    So you don’t ride the bus but still have to pay for it?! Not everyone has the ability to ride the bus. They drive old beater cars to get to and from work. This is stupid. He has all kinds of money he can DONATE to the SAVE.

  • Opinion8d

    While I believe that Abele is trying to solve this problem in a fiscally responsibly manner, I think he is off base here. I’m sure there is pressure from Mayor Barrett that he is caving on. When the city decides to waste money on the Trolley (total waste), and then they propose wrecking Wisconsin Ave/Bluemound with ‘rapid transit’ without focusing on the real problems of public transportation, I can’t support such an increase. Another tax(fee) on law abiding people when there are many other areas to cut funding or simply terminate existing programs is unacceptable. Why not charge more to ride the bus??

  • Opinion8d

    Democrat policies = enslavement – on another note, how many will protest this new fee as an extraordinary amount for those who need private transportation the most -the poor?!?! How many more people won’t be able to register a vehicle due to the increase in cost and thus get tickets for driving without registration?? This simply creates an undo burden on the poor and puts them further behind in the game when they are trying to get ahead. Now they have tickets to pay, plus a higher registration fee. ‘Criminalizing the innocent’ as democrats would say. What’s the solution? Oh, just as the democrats planned. People don’t get cars, and must further rely on govt to solve their problems. Will the county supervisors vote against this -I would hope an inner city supervisors would vote against it….or will they sell it as ‘I’m saving you poor folk so you can ride the bus for free’ to further enslave their constituents????

  • Never Hillary or liberals

    As you see here, when you vote for a liberal, their first reaction to how to fund anything is to tax the people who don’t use what they want to make. We get taxed so the government can give our money to people who don’t work. We get taxed for a trolley that will tax Milwaukee County and surrounding counties to death in few short years. Don’t think Barrett won’t run his choo choo outside the County. Remember the stadium tax that was to end in 2004? Ha. Keep voting in liberals and it will empty your wallet for social programs you will never want.


    I say this. Their is not many people left in the city of Milwaukee that are not on the dole. Everyone else is taxed to death. Who the hell wants to live in Milwaukee when it’s become a socialist free for all via the hard working people’s broken back. Were still paying for the stadium tax via a net that was cast over us like we were animals in the jungle. We won’t get into water bills or new buck arenas via trolleys. DO NOT LET THEM RAISE THE REGISTRATION TAX, YOU ARE FALLING INTO THE LIBERAL LEFT SOCIAL JUSTICE WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION MENTALITY SO A COUPLE DUDES CAN RIDE THE BUS ON THEIR WAY TO THE ENERGY ASSISTANCE OFFICE FOR SOME MO FREE CHIT.

  • Chattipatti

    I really think they want everyone to ride the bus. I would never move back to Milwaukee never, with everything that’s been going on, it’s a hot hot mess. The people who keep voting these clowns in deserve everything they are getting.

  • Dean

    The liberals reel goal is to make driving and owning a car to expensive so we will all have to use mass transit thats their reel dream

  • Joel

    This is ridiculous ! Yes, the fact of a new tax. But also the fact he can do this and we have to just suck on it ! This should be run like any other business ! Customers pay their way ! Raise the rates ! Run like a Taxi and charge per mile. I live in West Allis, and all I ever see are empty buses ! Why then are these routes run so often ?! Survey’s have been done, the info is out there, for ridership in the entire county. Run lines when needed, and eliminate when not. Or combine routes during non peak times. Or, I’m sure, dozens of other ideas. Not just one Twerp swinging a pen and charging Thousands of people extra to pay for something they don’t use. This is just as ridiculous has the before mentioned Stadium Tax that should’ve been paid for by ticket prices and the venue’s that use it, like the Brewers !

    • confused

      True! Less then a pack of smokes, case of soda, bag of family sized chips-all the things WORKING people cut back on so THEY can PAY their way to work. About time the refuse-to-work sacrifice a bit. We already pay forced fees on a lot of utilities for the “assistance programs”. Need to draw a line in the sand. This stops now. Those additional Milwaukee City/County along with the original registration fees cost more then my car insurance for 6 months.

  • scampbelltech

    Why should I pay an addtional $60 wheel tax when I don’t use the public transportation and these road here in Milwaukee are horrible. My car needs over a1000.00 frontend suspenion work due to these bad roads. Also you are increasing the taxes and other fees on the people living in Milwaukee when legislation was pass that teacher,firefighter, police oficer, county and city worker do not have to be residents in Milwaukee county to work here. Now you have these people moving and living outside of the city coming in making their money, enjoying the city and taking their money and paying taxes outside the city. This is a big problem. So now you want to make up the difference by taxing those of us that remain. This ridiculous.

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