Wheel tax would end special assessment fees that cost homeowners thousands

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Green Bay City Council will take up the wheel tax issue again on Tuesday to be able to repave more roads, and if it passes, homeowners will no longer be surprised with the financial burden of thousands of dollars in special assessment fees.

Currently, if you live in a residential area in Green Bay, the city can decide that the road you live on needs to be repaved, and will send you a bill between hundreds to thousands of dollars in what is called special assessment fees.

"A typical assessment probably runs between $1,700 and $2,100," Green Bay public works director Steve Grenier said. "We're doing about $1.3 million worth of residential streets every year."

A wheel tax is what a driver would pay every year when they renew their car's registration. The city has already considered wheel taxes that range between $10 to $20. A $15 option may be presented as well.

If the wheel tax is passed, there would be no more special assessment fees sprung on homeowners. The wheel tax would cover both commercial and residential roads.

"The additional thing that we'll be able to do with a road tax is we'll be able to increase the amount of roads that we're resurfacing," Green Bay alderman Bill Galvin explained. "Currently we resurface about two percent of the roads a year, that's going to take us fifty years to resurface all the roads, and yet roads are only guaranteed for about twenty five years."

While there are many drivers who do not want to pay the tax, and aldermen who do not want to add a tax onto their constituents' plates, it would alleviate the financial burden that could be sprung on any homeowner who lives on any street in the city.

"The homeowner that's going to get a bill for thousands of dollars for resurfacing a road doesn't have to start saving for that anymore," Galvin said when talking about what would happen if the tax was passed.

Green Bay's transportation has not received any funding to help with the roads that are riddled with potholes. Galvin says it's time for the city to find its own solution.

"We were waiting for the federal government to help us out, didn't happen," Galvin said. "We were waiting for the state government to help us out, didn't happen. County government, didn't happen. So we're on our own. This is our community, what do we want to do with it? How do we want it to look, and how do we want people coming here to perceive our community? And the biggest complaint we see again is the condition of our roads."

A $20 wheel tax would fill a $2 million hole that has been left in the city's 2018 budget since the last wheel tax initiative was shut down. 


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