Deanna Alexander
Press Release

A $60 Wheel Tax is NOT the Answer

Supervisor Alexander asks that the County Board and County Executive work together to find another way through the 2017 budget.

By - Sep 30th, 2016 08:04 am

(MILWAUKEE, WI) – Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander is taking a stand against the $60 per car vehicle registration fee proposed as part of the County Executive’s 2017 County Budget.

“We must be fiscally responsible, and we’ve seen no demonstration yet of any serious joint efforts by the County Board and the County Executive to work together to prevent raising taxes. There is no way I can support this,” said Alexander.

“In fact, it was the deliberate actions of elected officials supporting the GO Pass – which we knew was unsustainable from the start – that has put the good people of Milwaukee in this mess,” she said.

The Executive’s office claims that it “heard loud and clear that the GO Pass is a priority for the community and they were open to a vehicle registration fee.”

However, Alexander sees the disconnect: “The people demanding free bus rides are generally not the people who would pay the new tax, so we can’t connect the two and pretend that because someone benefited from another free government handout, their approval of a tax they won’t pay somehow holds water.”

Critics of the vehicle registration fee recognize that it will disproportionally harm low-income residents and in Milwaukee particularly, people of color. Even though the new tax would finance services that low-income families may use, the $60 annual bill would directly impact those same low-income families’ ability to own a car, be independent, and prosper.

Although the County Executive’s press statement indicated a plan to convert the wheel tax to a value-based assessment system, Supervisor Alexander sees little upcoming relief. “Once people get comfortable paying $60 per year in extra taxes, do they think the bill is ever going to go down? Most certainly not! If anything, the tax for those with nicer or newer vehicles will be multiplied under the intention of fairness,” she said.

“This is unlike dedicated sales tax funding, which I would be willing to explore if the State of Wisconsin would grant Milwaukee County the option to consider. Unlike this wheel tax, at least dedicated sales tax funding would share the cost of maintaining parks, museums, and transit services with the visitors to Milwaukee who help create demand for those amenities,” said Alexander.

Supervisor Alexander asks that the County Board and County Executive work together to find another way through the 2017 budget. “Do not impose this new burden on the good people of Milwaukee County.  Let’s truly find ways to be more efficient with what we have. Milwaukee County has experienced growth and has a larger tax base this year – we should work within that levy allotment. It’s not as if we’re winning awards for being a county government leading across the nation for efficiency.”

Alexander is hopeful that the County Executive’s full 2017 budget will focus on other long-term sustainable measures, like paying down debt, decreasing the County’s unused stock of land and buildings, and pushing for removal of the Estabrook Dam, and that ultimately, the notion of a $60 wheel tax will be abandoned.

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11 thoughts on “A $60 Wheel Tax is NOT the Answer”

  1. taxed enough says:

    Abele, a typical liberal response to a problem. Don’t bother to come up with a solution, just tax people more. Do you think people in Milwaukee County have money trees in their back yards? When you can’t afford to put a new transit system into place, do what your citizens do when they don’t have the money to add things to their house. DON’T DO IT. You cannot continue to use liberal thinking to answer problems that harm people. It’s a dilemma. Not enough people ride the transit system in this County for it to pay for itself. Adding more to it won’t help. Try paying for things that you can afford. Like Barrett’s trolley… it won’t be long before another tax will be needed to support his boondoggle. That thing will never run without government subsidies and guess who will end up paying for that? He already has plans for this trolley to cover the entire County. It could have been stopped, but people voted him in again. Hope you like what you voted for when you put them back in charge.

  2. Vincent Hanna says:

    As opposed to the conservative response to road funding? How’s that working out for us now?

  3. myfivecents says:

    How about all of you who want to complain about solutions come up with solutions of your own. Where else will the money come from. More borrowing like Walker is doing and then not paying the debt?

  4. AG says:

    myfivecents, a common suggestion is a small increase to the sales tax that both reduces the property tax levy and provides dedicated funding to parks, transportation, and a few other amenities. This not only gives relief to county tax payers that are already taken on too much of a burden but it also spreads the costs out to other people who use these amenities who live outside the county AND breaks up the tax into tiny increments on individual transactions. The latter point being an important one for people who struggle to make ends meet and have a tough time coming up with $155 a year all at one time.

    I’d also suggest some additional austerity measures such as rolling back the GO Pass program that was a waste of money and not necessary for most of the people using it.

  5. David Krueger says:

    I’m fine with the $60.

    I know Deanna Alexander says: “There is no way I can support this,” but I encourage her to focus on some real issues in the city.

    If you want to get worked up and take the lead on something, this isn’t worthy of your time.

  6. Casey says:

    As the sole breadwinner of a family of 4 with 2 vehicles I still support the $60 increase. Will it hurt in the wallet? Yes but not as much as most will think but more importantly I appreciate the value that a good mass transit system provides our region whether I ride it or not. Maybe my neighbor uses it and without cannot pay their mortgage, gets foreclosed on and thus decreases the value of my own home.

  7. Rich says:

    I noticed that the response (#1) by “taxed enough” had a few errors in it; a corrected version follows:
    >>>> Not enough people ride theany transit system in thisany County or elsewhere for that matter for it to pay for itself , so why do people keep insisting that such systems should?.

    WI has a demonstrable shortfall in the current road funding mechanism such that its “user fees” via the gas tax don’t pay for all of its needs either. That said shortfalls come from GPR funds which are largely provided by the same vehicle-owning constituency doesn’t mean that there’s a sustainable model there either, and let’s not forget that there is a tax-paying segment of society that doesn’t own or operate a car — theoretically they should be as mad as “taxed enough” that they have to pay for roads at all.

  8. Virginia says:

    I see two problems with this “wheel tax” as proposed. Unless county officials go to the Legislature and get them to allow it to be based on a car’s value (as many states do), then it’s just another regressive tax (“soaking the poor”). Also, as AG notes, it would not collect enough income to provide dedicated funding for other essentials such as parks and even adequate funding for up-to-date transportation.

    I’m fine with adjusting the GO Pass so that it’s provided only to those who truly need it–and with a very modest fee structure, as proposed (25 cents). As a recent story on the GO Pass has pointed out, the county has not really “lost” the many reported millions from people using the GO Pass because those buses were traveling those routes anyway. Not everyone using those passes may take the bus if they have to pay full fare. However, for many seniors a half-price fare will be sufficient incentive, as it previously was.

    If Milwaukee does not fund basic quality-of-life infrastructure such as decent transit and parks it will become increasingly undesirable to those who can vote with their feet.

  9. Virginia says:

    Here’s an article on Walker’s completely unsustainable and unfunded $939 million road-building plan. Many of these roads are not even needed, or billions are spent to rebuild a freeway to reduce commuter times by five minutes.

    The “driving” force behind all of it is the super-powerful road-building lobby, which is extremely generous to Walker, legislators, and their dark-money funders that were the subject of the John Doe investigation. Those road builders do not get contracts to FIX potholes or to improve mass transit. And since we live in a state controlled by them, many generations will continue paying for this extravagance, long after Walker and his cronies have moved on.

  10. Barbara Richards says:

    Yes to the Wheel tax, and yes to raised parking fees downtown and the Lakefront. Yes, to businesses downtown that provide bus passes and locker room for showers for bikers. We need to move our city forward, not keep an out dated vision of what comfort and security means. We need to fund mass transit and we need to move ourselves away from our dependence upon the automobile. Hitting the wallet/pocket book is way forward into an uncertain future. When more people take the bus because it is the most viable means of transit, Milwaukee will be much better off. Our health, especially our children’s health, and the health of our environment count on us to make the right, though challenging, decisions now.

  11. taxed enough says:

    Barbara Richards says:
    October 3, 2016 at 9:30 pm
    Yes to the Wheel tax, and yes to raised parking fees downtown and the Lakefront. Yes, to businesses downtown that provide bus passes and locker room for showers for bikers. We need to move our city forward, not keep an out dated vision of what comfort and security means….So Barbara, if you want to move us forward, why would you support a trolley on tracks circling the city? When I moved here there were still trolley tracks in the streets and the buses ran on electricity from wires hung all over town. Both rail and wires hampered the mobility of this transit system. So is moving forward putting in a rail system again? You will find out that this $60.00 tax will soon support this trolley, because, as all mass transit here, it will need monetary help very soon.

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