Eau Claire County Board considers wheel tax at Tuesday’s meeting

Eau Claire (WQOW) – The Eau Claire County Board pitched new ideas for repairing damaged county roads, moved to repeal the county living wage ordinance and voted to pressure Congress to protect the people from climate change at its meeting on Tuesday.

Wheel Tax

The county’s roads and bridges can give us a bumpy ride, but finding the money to fix them hasn’t been smooth sailing either. Officials said state funding has declined as the need for a fix has grown. Now, the Eau Claire County Board is looking at a wheel tax as an alternative.

Tuesday, the board introduced an ordinance to apply a new registration fee of $30 a year. Board members say all money raised would go toward repairing roads and bridges in the county, as well as decreasing the debt accrued from years of borrowing to pay for projects.

With 79,000 registered cars in the county, the plan is expected to bring in $2.4 million a year.  

Colleen Bates, who supports the annual fee told News 18: "We’re not keeping up with the amount of deterioration that’s occurring. Is this the right solution? I think unfortunately right now, it’s the only solution."

Not everyone is on board, however. County board member Sue Miller said raising the funds for our road fixes should be handled at the state level and should not be the responsibility of county residents.

The cost factor, obviously is one. The second is the exemption for the larger trucks. I just think that’s kind of silly when I drive a little S-10, I’m hardly doing any damage to the roadways," Miller told News 18. 

The proposed ordinance was just introduced today. The board is scheduled to vote on the measure at its July 17th meeting. If approved, it would go into effect January 1st.

Living Wage Ordinance

Tuesday, the county board also introduced a repeal of its living wage ordinance. It comes after the state passed a law removing the county’s ability to pay contractors more than the federal minimum wage.  

The ordinance had paid workers a minimum of $11.68 an hour. Once it is repealed, contracts will only require the state federal wage of $7.25 an hour. Any contracts signed before April 18 will remain through the end of the year.

The vote on the measure will take place in July. 

Climate Change Resolution

The board voted to put pressure on lawmakers to protect the environment against climate change. 

The county board voted 26-2 in support of a resolution urging Congress and state leaders to pass a law charging a fee on the imported or produced carbon in fossil fuels. The resolution also calls for limiting fossil fuel use to 10-percent by 2050.

It will now be sent to state and federal lawmakers urging them to take action.

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