Wednesday, August 3, 2016

GB struggles with effects of Fitzwalkerstan's negligence on roads

After the Walker Administration and WisGOP have spent the last 5+ years failing to give enough money to help local governments fix their streets, we see yet another large Wisconsin city thinking about making up the difference by having its citizens pay more to register their vehicles.
An extra fee on vehicle registrations would replace special assessments for street repairs under a proposal being considered by the Green Bay City Council.

Supporters of the fee, commonly referred to as a wheel tax, say it's a more fair way to pay for street reconstruction and repaving work because drivers share the cost. In contrast, the current system requires property owners abutting the road to pay….

The city's most recent streets evaluation shows 131 of 412 roadway miles need to be repaved or fully reconstructed. Those roads rank 3 or less on a 10-point scale used to evaluate a street's condition.

Repaving all of those roads would cost the city and property owners more than $30 million, based on current prices.
Green Bay would join cities such as Janesville, Sheboygan and Fort Atkinson to add this local vehicle registration fee in recent months, and 6 communities in the state have added such a fee in 2016 alone. Oddly, I never hear Scott Walker or other WisGOP legislators bring this up when they claim they have kept "taxes low for the hard-working taxpayer."

And that’s not the only local road funding problem in the GB area, as many communities in Brown County are complaining that they will have to pay much more when it comes to local road projects, thanks to a change in policy at the county board.
Leaders of local municipalities as large as Green Bay and as small as Wrightstown are lining up to oppose a proposed change in the way they and the county share the cost of county road projects. Costs currently are split, but the proposed change could have local government paying more.

"On a lot of roads, we could end up paying close to 75 percent of the costs," said Ashwaubenon Village President Mike Aubinger. "Bike lanes and other things would be nonfunded" by the county.

County officials have proposed eliminating a funding approach outlined in a pre-existing agreement between that county and the two dozen municipalities in it. They say changes would be fairer to taxpayers as a whole because it would better take into account the value of a project to taxpayers across the county.

The county is not proposing a specific change in the cost-sharing formula, Executive Troy Streckenbach said. Rather, formulas might vary depending on whether a project benefited a large or small portion of Brown County.
This is the inevitable fallout from a state government that has steadily reduced shared revenues to local communities in favor of tax breaks and adding funds to campaign contributors through entities such as WEDC and voucher schools. And because the WisGOP Legislature was too gutless to take up a bill that would have allowed a county’s residents to vote for a 0.5% sales tax that would be designated for road repairs, we now see roads continue to deteriorate and requiring new taxes, fees, and cuts to make up the difference.

And while this is going on, the Walker Administration wants to shell out for an $850 million expansion of I-94 in Milwaukee that few people want? Take care of the basics first, and give local governments the ability to better afford taking care of their streets before you start blowing the budget on that stupidity.


  1. Fun fact: During discussion of the state budget earlier this year, there was a proposal to raise the state's registration fee, but take away the local "wheel tax" option. They're seeing more and more cities are having to pass it, and they don't like how it's making them look.

    They also raised the administrative fee on each registration for 10 cents to about 17 cents, if memory serves me correctly.

    1. I do recall some bill on not wanting local fees, much like the "no school referendum" bill. Thosea clowns refuse to admit that REVENUES ARE NEEDED to do things.

      Good catch on the 17 cents that gets kicked back to the state.Seems small, but it'Lloyd probably cost Milwaukee about $30,000 in revenue next year

  2. Drove to Algoma this past weekend (up US41, east on Wis54, then back down on Wis42, west on 151 back to 41)and there was quite a variance in road quality, but it was generally rougher than past years. There was a lot of work being done on the major roads with big projects, though not much on county and city.

    The private contractor/road builder lobby has a big impact on our government, and that's where most of the State money seems to be directed toward. Neglecting basic road maintenance then leads to bigger problems that the city and county crews can't handle.

    It would surely be better if we could go back to larger shared revenues from the State to localities; cities and towns are really being made to suffer under this WisGOP scheme.

    1. I think you're right on the prioirities changing, and that's why it makes sense to allow the localities to raise more money for their roads, and to do it in a way that makes "outsiders" pay some of that burden (especially in tourist areas that get a lot more traffic in Summer vs Winter).

      But the WisGOP Legislature refused to vote on the common-sense 0.5% sales tax for local roads, which would seem a logical move if they were to cut their shared revenues.

      The legislators in Madison need to fund local government, or untie the locals' hands. ALEC World is failing Wisconsin this way.

  3. There are some advantages to the I-94 E/W project in Milwaukee proper that fix deficient designs left over from the 1950s and I think some reasonable choices were made to pare the project down from what it could have been. The road will need to be rebuilt relatively soon -- that's a fact -- and I'd rather it include some design improvements instead of just another layer of asphalt. What's somewhat troubling is how they execute...Why does it have to be a mega-project? Can't they work slowly towards a design with some spot improvements? Since that would mean an overall longer construction timeline, some argue it costs more, but might allow for progress while spreading the budget impact.

    1. My issue isn't as much that the road needs work (resurfacing, better exits/entrances), but blowing $850 million at once to expand it to 8 lanes when the traffic doesn't warrant it? And then jacking up the traffic that is on it because it'll be a mega-project? Beyond stupid.