Crawford County enacts $20 wheel tax

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By Ted Pennekamp


Vehicle owners in Crawford County will each be paying $20 per year more when they register their vehicles beginning in 2021. By a vote of 14-1, the Crawford County Board passed a wheel tax of $20 during its regular meeting Tuesday morning. Board member Greg Russell voted against the wheel tax. Carl Orr and Edward Hayes-Hall were absent.

Board member Duane Rogers gave a presentation in which he noted there are approximately 19,000 vehicles in the county that would be affected. This will result in the county receiving about $380,000 annually. The revenue must be used for transportation related purposes, and will go into the Highway Department budget.

Affected vehicles are automobile and truck registrations at 8,000 pounds or less (except dual purpose farm). The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will keep an administrative fee of 17 cents per vehicle and will send the rest to the county.

Crawford County joins 12 other counties that have enacted a wheel tax in Wisconsin. These wheel taxes average $22 per year. There are 28 municipalities in the state that have enacted wheel taxes at an average of $20 per year.

Rogers said the wheel tax will help the county to balance its annual budget which has become more difficult in recent years. The 2017 budget was $534,000 over the levy limit allowed by the state. The 2018 budget was over by $662,000. In 2019, it was over by $675,000. For 2020, the budget is expected to be over by $1,066,000.

The state imposed levy limit increased by $98,603 from 2019 to 2020 due mainly to an increase in new construction in the county of .73 percent. The 2.5 percent pay raise increased the county’s operating budget by $368,503.

In other business, the board approved of having Bug Tussel Wireless of Green Bay proceed with plans to improve broadband, high-speed internet in the county.

Bug Tussel was contacted by the Wauzeka-Steuben School District regarding concerns over virtual learning. Wauzeka-Steuben, North Crawford and Seneca were represented at the county board meeting.

Bug Tussel President and CEO Steve Schneider  told the board he would like its approval before proceeding with the project. He said Bug Tussel has built broadband in 22 counties. He also pointed out that Crawford County has large areas where broadband, high-speed internet is not available or is very poor.

Schneider said the cost is estimated at $5.3 million and that Bug Tussel could invest $4.7 million. He also noted that Bug Tussel will later ask the county for a low interest $250,000 loan to be paid back in 12 years. Public Service Commission grants and other grants might also be used for the project.

In further business, the board:

•voted down a resolution to support Second Amendment rights by a vote of 8-7. It was noted that county board supervisors take an oath each year to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and therefore, already have sworn to uphold the Second Amendment.

•approved of an application to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority’s Rural Affordable Workforce Housing Initiative. The initiative will begin by designing a pilot program.

•approved of new voting machines for 2021 in all villages and townships in the county except for the city of Prairie du Chien and the town of Bridgeport which already have the new voting machines.

The current voting machines were purchased in 2006 through federal funds at just over $162,000. There was no cost to the municipalities. 

Crawford County will be consolidating with numerous other counties for the new machines in order to receive the best price possible. 

Because of the multi-county discount, the cost of each machine is $6,600. The smaller villages will be buying touch screen machines at a cost of $3,495 each.

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