By Gretta Becay
Wheelage and sales tax have brought more than $2.5 million to Dodge County’s transportation system since January 2014.
In 2013, the Dodge County Commissioners approved a $10 wheelage tax on certain vehicles registered in the county. The state legislature had authorized the tax in their session that year. In 2017, the legislature authorized counties to raise that tax to $20. The tax is collected when vehicles are registered, and the registration tax is paid. It is not collected on mopeds, motorcycles, motorized bicycles or trailers.
County Engineer Guy Kohlnhofer explained that, “Wheelage tax and gas tax are more like user fees in that those who use the roads pay for them.”
Proceeds from the wheelage tax may only be used for transportation expenses such as road maintenance within the county.
In 2018, the County Commissioners approved a state-authorized .5 percent sales tax. Those funds also may only be used for ‘transportation-related projects.’
County Finance Director Lisa Kramer explained that the sales tax collected in 2019 raised $819,233 and since December 2013, wheelage tax (tab fees) have raised $1,694,896.
Kohlnhofer explained what transportation projects have been completed with those funds.
The first project was completed in 2015. At that time, County Road T north of Highway 30 was resurfaced at a cost of $350,000.
In 2019, a full-depth reclamation was completed on County State Aid Road 20 west of Highway 56. These local funds contributed $625,000 to that $1.1 million project.
Also in 2019, an overlay was completed on County State Aid Road 1 for $350,000, “…in hopes of keeping that road serviceable until sufficient funds are available to put a whole new surface on it,” said Kohlnhofer.
In 2020, the department plans to widen and resurface County State Aid Highway 13 south of Highway 30.
“These funds will help complete that project,” he said.
In a few years, the Highway Department hopes to improve County Road 24 east of Berne with the tax dollars collected from these two revenue streams.“Road construction and maintenance is an expensive endeavor and these local funds help bridge the gap between state funding and what is needed to provide an adequate transportation system,” he noted.