Green Bay committee delays discussion on latest wheel tax proposal

Green  Bay's Improvement and Services Committee meets on November 29, 2017 to discuss a wheel tax proposal. (Photo credit: WLUK)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- A city committee voted Wednesday night to wait two weeks to discuss a new $15-wheel tax proposal for Green Bay drivers.

Council members have talked about the idea for more than a year as a way to pay for road repairs. They've voted down two $20 proposals in the last four months.

“I've had over 25 calls or emails on this in the past month or so,” said Barbara Dorff, a Green Bay Alderperson. “That is really a lot. People don't call or email a lot. I think that was a significant number in my experience.”

A wheel tax would replace bills sent to property owners for work done on their street. The bills, called special assessments, can often cost thousands of dollars.

“It is a complex issue because you're dealing with special assessments for residential properties, but our original recommendation was also to reduce the special assessments for other classes,” said David Nennig, a Green Bay Alderperson.

The Improvement and Services Committee decided to wait two weeks to discuss the latest proposal. Alderperson Chris Wery, who brought forward the plan, was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Part of Wery's proposal includes doubling the amount of road work the city currently does. However, Public Works Director Steve Grenier says that isn't possible.

“The engineering staff in public works is taxed to the limit right now,” said Grenier. “They are pushing as much work as humanly possible out the door. Asking them to double their output simply is not an option, so we need to also be prepared for additional staff.”

Where the money for more staff might come from is just one of the questions council members hope to cover when the issue is discussed again.

Council members say if a wheel tax is agreed upon, there would be another three-month wait before collections would start.

19 municipalities and six counties in Wisconsin currently have a wheel tax.

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