7/25/2013 3:10:00 PM Vehicles to be taxed $10 more on split vote
by DENISE MARTIN
by DENISE MARTIN The wheelage tax has been adopted for vehicles kept in Chisago County, on a split vote of the County Board. The state legislature granted all counties authority to impose an extra $10 per vehicle paid when you register a car, buy a car or get the annual tabs for your vehicles. Offices of the state Registrar of Motor Vehicles collect the money and return it to the county in which the vehicle is listed as being kept.
A few counties in the metro aea have had specal enabling legislation in place to do this “wheelage tax” for years, but in the last legislative session the powers were broadened to statewide. Hennepin and Ramsey county boards also just recently voted to adopt the tax. Chisago County Board members opposed were Ben Montzka and Lora Walker. Commissioner Walker said this tax ought to be a state “responsibility” which lawmakers have chosen instead to “shift” to local elected officials to impose. She said funding for road projects should come “in traditional fashion” as part of state revenue.
Chairman Montzka also voted no. He had asked earlier to see where the county budget can be cut by a half million; so that this wheelage tax isn’t over-and- above what residents are paying in to support government. There was no information provided at the time the wheelage tax vote was taken on the county 2014 budget. County Commissioner Rick Greene didn’t have a problem because it is basically a user tax, he said, only paid for by people who drive vehicles, and that revenue must be used for roadwork. Commissioner Mike Robinson supported the wheelage tax saying it amounts to 20 cents a week. “We’re not taxing people out of house and home here,” he remarked.
Robinson added the action can be reversed, and if he feels his northern third of the county isn’t getting “its share” of road funding from the revenues he’ll be the first to make a motion to revoke the tax. Chisago County, based on an estimated number of registered vehicles here, (motorcycles are exempt) will generate over $500,000 annually from the $10 wheelage tax.