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County board to consider wheelage tax

Published 11:15am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Otter Tail County Board soon will consider whether residents will pay up to $10 in an additional fee when they buy their annual license plate tabs.

The Legislature has allowed counties to consider the wheelage tax on tab registration. County boards must decide before August 1 if they want to collect the tax starting on January 1 of 2014, according to highway department engineer Rick West. The board would have the same deadline next year to approve for 2015.

Originally approved for use in metro counties, state approval now allows the rest of Minnesota’s counties to use the tax.

“The board sees a need for additional funding that could go in support of our Otter Tail County highway system,” West said.

West said he will give a formal presentation to the board on the topic July 16. After getting the info they need, the board will decide when the tax will be levied and the details on its collection. The most popular way in other counties has been with a $5 to $10 fee on car tab renewal.

An educational component would also be necessary to inform the public on the county highway needs. West said they are working on an informational packet and presentation to inform residents on what is at stake if the highway budget remains the same.

Around $568,000 would be raised by the county with the tax, according estimates given to the county by the Department of Revenue and the Department of Public Safety. That money would be used locally to help support needs of the county’s bridges and highway.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that there’s the need of additional funding for our highway and roads system,” West said.

Funding has become a major problem for the road system and its future. West gave the example that, several years ago, asphalt was $20 a ton for a job. That number has spiked to $50 a ton.

“Just that causes us to look at our road system and ask what is in our future,” West said.

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