The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 23, 2013

Nicollet County votes down wheelage tax

By Dan Linehan

---- — ST. PETER — The Nicollet County Board voted 3-2 Tuesday to turn aside a $10-per-vehicle tax to spend on road projects.

The commissioners who voted against the tax were concerned in part about the potential state fee to administer the tax, County Administrator Ryan Krosch said. The state hasn’t said how much of the tax it will be keeping for administration, but he said some commissioners were concerned it would be too high and rise over time.

The vote also was a reflection of the belief that the state is not fulfilling its responsibility to pay for road repairs, he said.

Voting in favor of the new tax were Jack Kolars and James Stenson. Voting against were Bruce Beatty, Dave Haack and Marie Dranttel.

The tax would have collected just under $260,000 a year, about 14 percent of the property tax dollars the county devotes to the maintenance of roads and public works buildings.

The Legislature recently allowed counties to institute the $10-per-vehicle tax, called the “wheelage” tax, to fund transportation.

Brown and Le Sueur counties unanimously approved the tax, and Blue Earth County decided against it.

Counties can also institute a half-percent sales tax for transportation, but none have so far.