Wheel tax improving roads in City of Milton

Published: Oct. 10, 2019 at 6:07 PM CDT
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In November 2016, the City of Milton implemented a local vehicle registration fee as part of the 2017 budget process.

The wheel tax in Milton is $30 per vehicle and started collecting funds in April 2017.

Dan Nelson, the City of Milton’s finance director and treasurer, says the tax generates an estimated $140,000 to $150,000 annually for road maintenance items.

“This has been a sustainable revenue source that has supplanted other revenue source to take care of streets in the last three years,” said Nelson.

This past year, the city was able to seal coat over five miles of roads in need of repair.

In previous years, several streets had mill and overlay repairs using about $250 thousand from the vehicle registration fee.

Nelson says the tax actually saves residents money because it prevents the city from borrowing money.

“There’s no short term or long term plans to borrow for road projects in both the near and long term future,” he said. “This allows every dollar that we collect to actually go toward road maintenance instead of other administrations and bond holders and that sort of thing.”

The funds are collected into a pool of money specifically designated for road projects. In addition, the council annually allots $150,000 for road maintenance.

Nelson says if a wheel tax is implemented correctly and with transparency to residents, it can be a benefit.

“Making sure that there’s a plan in place and good communication about what roads and what streets that a community is going to spend it on,” he said. “Also what those dollars are going to be used for in connection with other dollars and other funding sources.”

Rock County does not have a vehicle registration fee but the cities of Beloit, Janesville, and Evansville each have one in their municipalities.

The City of Madison is also looking to adopt a wheel tax of $40 per vehicle, which would be the highest in the state.

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