Supervisors approve resolution allowing wheel tax to sunset at end of 2022
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
MERRILL – The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors, during its meeting at the Lincoln County Service Center in Merrill on Tuesday, July 19, voted to formally allow the county’s annual $20.00 vehicle registration fee, known as the “wheel tax,” to sunset on Dec. 31, 2022.
The board voted 14-3 to pass a resolution that instructs the county to notify the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) of the fee’s expiration. In April 2021, the board voted to extend the wheel tax through 2022 and add the Dec. 31, 2022 sunset.
An ordinance creating the $20.00 vehicle registration fee was approved in Sept. 2017, and the fee went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The ordinance included a Dec. 31, 2018 sunset. However, the fee was extended multiple times as a means of generating funds for the Highway Department’s budget.
The roughly $560,000.00 generated annually from the wheel tax could be allocated to road maintenance, new construction, snow removal and other Highway Department operations.
The resolution passed this week was authored by District 13 Supervisor Calvin Callahan and co-sponsored by District 9 Supervisor and Board Chair Don Friske, District 10 Supervisor Jesse Boyd, District 11 Supervisor Randy Detert, District 12 Supervisor Julie DePasse and District 18 Supervisor Ken Wickham.
In the resolution, Callahan said the multiple extensions of the wheel tax “(eroded) public confidence in the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors.”
During discussion, numerous board members voiced their concerns that it was unclear what the wheel tax funds were being spent on and said they had spoken with constituents who wished to see the fee done away with.
With the sunset officially in place, the board will be tasked with filling a $560,000.00 hole in the 2023 budget.
The preliminary 2023 budget is anticipated to be presented to the board in August, with the final budget expected to be approved in November.