An extra fee on vehicle registrations would replace special assessments for street repairs under a proposal being considered by the Green Bay City Council.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."
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.
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.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.
"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.
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.