Wheelage tax passed in Douglas County
Smoothing out that bumpy road has just bumped up the cost of your license tab renewal. Douglas County commissioners approved implementation of a new wheelage tax at Tuesday's meeting.
Beginning in 2014, when Douglas County residents register their vehicles each year, they will be paying an additional $10 per vehicle. A resolution to adopt the fee was passed in a 4-to-1 vote. Commissioner Jim Stratton voted against the tax.
Funds collected will be used to maintain roads in the county as outlined in Article 14 of the Minnesota Constitution. County Engineer/Public Works Director Dave Robley said he plans to inform the public of the total amount collected at future annual public information meetings.
Commissioner Bev Bales supported the "user fee" for safety reasons.
"A lot of the accidents happening in the state, and especially the fatalities, are on rural roads," Bales said.
Bales voiced concern during the July 9 county board meeting that the state may reduce funds distributed to counties who add the tax. According to the American Association of Counties, it can't. The wheelage tax has no bearing on the County State Aid Highway distribution formula.
Counties are able to vote year by year to keep or dispose of the wheelage tax. The tax is $10 until 2018 when counties can opt to increase the amount up to $20 per vehicle.
Motorcycles, mopeds, trailers, semitrailers, collector vehicles and state owned vehicles are not subject to the wheelage tax.
Robley reported that 27 other counties had adopted the tax, including: Anoka, Beltrami, Brown, Carver, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Dakota, Dodge, Freeborn, Hennepin, Houston, Itasca, Kandiyohi, Le Sueur, Martin, Mower, Norman, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Waseca and Washington. Commissioner Jerry Johnson said neighboring Stevens and Grant counties declined the tax. Robley said Ottertail is holding off until next year.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.