Hudson Republican Dean Knudson’s “wheel tax” referendum bill would require voter approval before a municipality or county could impose an annual vehicle registration tax on cars and light trucks kept within their jurisdiction. “The local vehicle tax has been something of a stealth tax in Wisconsin — easily and quietly adopted, then invisibly collected year after year.”
At a Capitol hearing Knudson says when property taxes were capped, the majority in the legislature did not intend to have taxpayers pony-up for wheel taxes.
Fort Atkinson Democrat Andy Jorgenson says it’s not up to state lawmakers to micro-manage local municipalities. “We have to let local control take place. Just because we don’t agree with it in some instances, doesn’t mean we have to get involved every time there’s something that we feel philosophically is wrong.”
Wisconsin law allows a town, village, city or county to collect an annual wheel tax in addition to the regular annual registration fee paid for a vehicle. State law does not limit the amount. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation currently collects wheel taxes for the cities of Milwaukee ($20), Beloit ($10), and Mayville ($10) along with St. Croix County ($10).
The Janesville City Council recently approved a $10 wheel tax for its residents. Their annual car registration fee will increase beginning in 2012 in order to help plug that city’s $1.5 million budget deficit.
Lawmakers heard testimony at a public hearing Tuesday in the Assembly Committee on Transportation.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:19