6/27/2013 4:28:00 PM County Board taking a look at wheelage tax for road projects
by DENISE MARTIN
When you renew your vehicle registration and get your annual tabs, or buy new vehicle plates there’s a box on the mailer that is not checked off at this time for Chisago County residents. The County Board will be reviewing that blank box for imposing the “wheelage tax” and if commissioners adopt a wheelage tax to help fund “highway purposes” the next registration or tabs bill you receive will be $10 more and have a check-mark in that box. The legislature recently granted counties like Chisago the authority to levy a wheelage tax, or a local sales tax.
County commissioners decided last week to take a look at wheelage. There was zero support on the Board for imposing local sales tax. Staff were asked to bring more information to the July 17 County Board meeting for possible action. If Chisago County opts to impose a wheelage tax it would bring in an estimated $545,000 in revenue annually starting 2014. The deadline to notify the state is August 1. The state motor vehicle services offices collect the money and it is distributed back to the county where the vehicle is kept. At this time the legislature only gave Chisago County power to tax $10. The cap is raised to $20 per vehicle in 2018. County commissioners want to be able to analyze 2014 budgeting scenarios and see how/where to plug wheelage tax in.
Board Chair Ben Montzka stated he’d only vote to impose it if the Board shows “some world class leadership” cutting the county levy by a similar amount. Montzka said he doesn’t want wheelage to just be additional money. County Administrator Bruce Messelt said he needs to give county officials a “target” to get started on a 2014 budget recommendation. So, the Board also voted unaimously to direct department heads to aim for a one percent reduction as a “floor” for the 2014 budget and a zero increase in levy as the “ceiling.” Also related to transportation was County Engineer Joe Triplett’s update on the comprehensive transportation plan.
The consultant with SRF, Brian Shorten, said the draft plan should be ready by mid-July. ~ Triplett said there was only one bid received for County Road #14 reconstruction work (Knife River’s) and he’ll probably have the Board vote to award the bid July 3. ~ Several citizens from the Fifth District (northern third of county) spoke during public comment about the need to reinstate County Highway 8 on the projects list for 2013. The Board revised the work list and put County Road 16 as a priority diverting funds budgeted for #8 to #16. Bob Cupit, Babe Sudith, Willis Peterson, Tim Maring, James Koubecek and a couple others spoke about the poor condition of #8. Later, in adopting the plan for road projects for 2013 and 2014, Fifth Dist. Commissioner Mike Robinson tried to re-insert the Cty. Rd. 8 appropriation but was unsuccessful. Robinson also tried to get Cty. Roads 2 and 4 included as well, to no avail.
In zoning business the County Board denied a request to amend the recreational vehicle placement rules. Right now the county lets you keep an RV on a rural site for 30 days. Brian Dahedl sought to revise the ordinance to allow for keeping RVs on lots for longer duration of time. The planning commission will continue to review the ordinance and the issues that accompany lengthier placement; like waste, site disturbances, complaints from neighbors, etc. but for now the rule stands.