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Weigh In On Wheelage Tax in Hennepin County

Minnesota state statute now allows for counties to implement a wheelage tax of up to ten dollars per vehicle. To date, Hennepin County has not implemented the wheelage tax to fund road and bridge projects. 

A wheelage tax of $10 per vehicle in Hennepin County could raise approximately $9 million a year for the county road systems. The wheelage tax serves as a fee-based way to improve and repair county roads and bridges without raising property taxes. 

“This money could jump start our road system and help get it back into high-quality shape, improve safety, save energy, and provide better movement on county roads,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. “This could also be used to reduce property taxes currently going into the road system." 

Property taxes would be reduced as capital improvements, maintenance and operational needs are aggressively fixed.  This proposal would preserve our system by integrating high benefit / low cost safety improvements.  It would also yield better pavement within 5 years, instead of the current 10 year time frame.  LED bulbs would be installed in intersections to reduce electric costs and extend the life of the bulbs.  Signalized intersections on the county network would be synchronized:  every $1 Hennepin County spends on this will benefit the County $28 in fuel consumption, delay time, and air quality. 

The county has more than 2,200 lane miles of paved roads. It costs $8.6 million per year to repair 140 road lane miles. The county also maintains 450 signals in suburban communities and 329 signals in Minneapolis as well as five flashing signals. There are 147 county bridges and 72 of those are more than 35 years old. Bridge replacement averages about $3 million and $300 thousand for maintenance. 

Public testimony will be taken 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, at the Public Works, Energy & Environment Committee meeting, chaired by Commissioner McLaughlin.   

(Information provided by a Hennepin County press release)

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