County wheelage tax might pay for a new bridge in Minneapolis | StarTribune.com
July 16, 2011 2 Comments
Strib writes: County wheelage tax might pay for a new bridge in Minneapolis :
Hennepin County will consider reviving a wheelage tax it hasn’t used since 1975 to pay down debt on the Lowry Avenue Bridge.
Hennepin County could bring back a tax it hasn’t used in 36 years to help pay its share of the Lowry Avenue Bridge, now under construction in northeast Minneapolis.
It’s called a wheelage tax, and it’s collected from vehicle owners in five of the seven metro-area counties able to impose it under state law. Only Ramsey and Hennepin don’t have it.
That could change Tuesday, when the Hennepin County Board will take up a resolution by Commissioner Peter McLaughlin to charge $5 per vehicle (except motorcycles and some trailers) starting next year.
The $4 million that the wheelage tax would generate annually would be used to pay down most of the county’s $51.7 million debt on the bridge, slated to be finished next summer.
McLaughlin said that the new tax revenue would replace the property taxes now used to finance the bridge. If the board approves the wheelage tax, he said, the property tax levy would be reduced by a corresponding amount.
“Historically, we haven’t used debt backed by property taxes to pay for roads. We’ve used gas taxes and user fees like that,” he said. “Property taxes are not how we ought to be subsidizing roads.”"
OK, user fees are best of all, wheelage taxes are better than sales or income taxes, and property taxes are not as good as Transportation Utility Fees or Land Value Taxes, but if accessibility increases property value, property taxes are not an unreasonable place to start for paying for roads.
The article does mention that “Minus administrative payments, the tax would generate a little more than $4 million.”, I assume it is collected by the state with annual vehicle registration. I would hate for there to be a new tax collection infrastructure for this.
Also, why aren’t bicycles assessed (at half rate since they have only two wheels)? (Yes that was rhetorical).