Council adopts $40 wheel tax

In a special meeting, the Madison City Council adopted a plan to charge city residents a $40-per-vehicle registration fee. The additional money is expected to raise an additional $7.9 million to help plug an $11 million hole in the 2020 city operating budget.

The wheel tax is the state’s largest and while Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway agrees it’s regressive, the extra funds are expected to fund transportation projects including preparations for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and “free up more than $3.5 million from property taxes,” according to a WKOW-TV report.

Despite opposition and late alternatives introduced to reduce the tax, Alders voted 11–8 in favor of an ordinance to adopt the fee, which means city residents would pay an annual $153 vehicle registration fee effective Feb. 1, 2020, which includes the wheel tax.

“Yes, it may be regressive, but we are doing our best to make the impact less,” stated the mayor in a Capital Times story.

To try to ease some of the burden on households in the WIC program, the city Finance Committee also adopted an amendment to provide $40 gift cards to offset the fee.

Budget deliberations on the 2020 capital and operating budgets start the week of Nov. 11, and the Council has until Nov. 6 to submit amendments.