August 31, 2014

Mileage-based vehicle registration fee proposed

The state is looking for ways to pay for future road construction projects and other transportation needs, and a special panel has made a series of suggestions. The 10-member Transportation Finance and Policy Commission has issued its preliminary report, which includes a possible five-cent increase in them state gasoline tax, and a new mileage-based registration fee for cars and trucks.

“We have roads that are falling apart, and we need to make sure that we do something about that,” said state Representative Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton, a member of the Assembly’s transportation committee. The Democratic lawmaker said she needs to take a closer look at the possibilities, before deciding which ones she could support.

The proposed mileage-based system would charge 1.02 cents for every mile driven, up to 20,000. The first 3,000 miles would be free, in part to account for out-of-state travel, and the maximum charge would be 204 dollars. That would be in addition to the regular annual vehicle registration fee.

“It could be expensive to do a vehicle miles traveled type of fee,” said Bernard Schaber, noting Wisconsin isn’t alone in studying this option. “What’s happened is, we have cars that are more fuel efficient. That’s good, but that means they buy less guess, which means we have less revenue.”

The commission also wants to give local governments the power to create regional transit authorities, and a half-cent sales tax, if voters agree. “I’ve been working on a regional transit authority that’s directly focused on public transportation,” said Barnard Schaber. “I’m becoming a little more hopeful that it will pass this year.”

 Rick Schuh, WHBY