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Wheelage tax is necessary

To the editor:

Why the wheelage tax? Safety is one of the biggest reasons. Roads and bridges throughout rural Minnesota especially, are in bad shape. There are a high number of accidents and unfortunately many fatalities, many attributed to roads.

Transportation funding from the state has not kept up with the needs. As MnDOT State Commissioner Charley Zelle said in the town meeting in Alexandria September 6, "The funding just hasn't been there and it is a constraint not only on our quality of life but business prosperity as well."

The previous three governors vetoed nearly every transportation bill brought to them by both Republicans and Democrats. (One Bill was signed by Governor Pawlenty when the I35 Bridge collapsed.) Past-governor Carlson is now very supportive of fixing our roads and bridges; a change from when he was governor. He has learned of the desperate situation our infrastructure is in.

This year's Legislature at least allowed rural counties to vote for a wheelage tax, beginning next year, something metro counties have had in place for several years. The Douglas County Board voted for the $10 tax on license tabs beginning January 2014. That money can be used only for roads and bridges.

The huge amount that is needed for our roads cannot be entirely placed on our property taxes. The wheelage tax is a start, and along with the aid we do get from the state plus what the county levies, should help to make the improvements so badly overdue and necessary.

The vote for the wheelage tax is for the upgrades needed and certainly for the safety of all who use our roads.

Bev Bales, Douglas County commissioner

Carlos, MN