City leaders in De Pere are weighing a wheel tax to help pay for sidewalk and street repairs. Local 5 found out the proposal is within the newly approved city budget, but it isn’t a done deal just yet.

When sidewalks need repair in De Pere, often property owners foot the bill through a special assessment.  But now the city is looking to generate revenue for repairs in a different way – specifically through a wheel tax.

“I think it’s something that will help the property owners in the city of De Pere,” said Mayor Mike Walsh.

It’s an idea included in the city’s new budget – a fee of $20 per vehicle each year, generating $200,000 for sidewalk repair in 2018 and roughly $400,000 each year going forward.

Mayor Walsh says it’s a way to avoid special assessments which in the past have ranged between $150 to $3,000 dollars per repair.

“It takes away some of the big amounts that people have to pay for the repair of sidewalks,” said Walsh.

“I’m opposed to the wheel tax,” said Alderman Larry Lueck.

Lueck says taxes rarely goes away, usually increase over time and in this case, would be paid by some property owners that will never see it’s benefit. 

“I have 400 properties in my district that don’t have sidewalks and will never get sidewalks, therefore they’re going to have start paying for sidewalks on other people’s properties,” Lueck said.

“I don’t like that idea. On a street like ours where we don’t even have sidewalks, I’m paying for someone else’s sidewalks,” said Patrick Ehlen, whose neighborhood has no sidewalks.

“The benefits are out there if people want to do it, if the council doesn’t want to go forward with it that’s up to them,” said Walsh.

A draft ordinance should be ready for the De Pere Common Council’s consideration in the coming months.

De Pere spent $150,000 in sidewalk repair in 2017 and property owners were billed for roughly $60,000 of that work.

A portion of the wheel tax could also be used for street repairs.