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Appleton looking at new ways to fund road projects

Local News

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)-How your city funds your local roads is probably something you don’t think a lot about until you’re in your car driving over a pothole.

Appleton’s Common Council has been thinking a lot about road funding, so much so that they approved a study to see if there’s a better way to do it.

“Overall we’re proud of the condition of our roads, but we know that they are continuing to age,” says Appleton’s Director of Public Works Paula Vandehey.

Right now, the city uses a wheel tax to fund its road projects. The problem is the tax generates about $1.2 million per year which isn’t nearly enough for the improvements and maintenance needed to keep the roads in good shape.

The city ends up having to borrow money for these projects which creates debt.

Last week, Appleton Common Council approved a study that will look to see if there is a better way to fund city road projects. The study will consider an array of options.

“Council can raise the wheel tax, they can choose to do less projects so the council definitely has options,” says Vandehey.

Another option is a transportation utility fee which taxes properties based on size and how much that property is used.

“We can generate revenue from additional sources that the wheel tax doesn’t (so this) is something that is worth looking into,” says Appleton Alderman Chad Doran.

Alderman Doran and Alderman Brad Firkus were co-sponsors of the resolution that approved the study.

Doran says if the city ends up using the transportation utility model they would get rid of the wheel tax so residents don’t get taxed twice for road funding.

Right now though, all Appleton’s Common Council has committed to is a study. Appleton’s Public Works Department will hire a consultant to do the study which will cost between $50,000-$70,000 and take a few months to complete.

The city will pay for the study using excess general fund dollars.

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