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Advisory Referendum on Vehicle Registration Fee on Ballot Next Week

Mar. 28, 2017
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Photo credit: Mel Green

There is a Milwaukee County advisory referendum on the Tuesday, April 4 ballot regarding a vehicle registration fee (VRF). Since it is advisory, it is obviously non-binding so it is the equivalent of taking a poll. The problem is that it is written in such a way that it limits the voter’s options. For background, state law limits the type of taxes that Milwaukee County can levy. One tax the county can impose is a vehicle registration fee or what is called a wheel tax. The tax would be a flat fee on all vehicles. It is a regressive tax in that it takes a larger percentage of the income of a lower income person than a higher income person. Right now, state law prohibits a county from basing the tax on the value of the vehicle, for example, which could make the tax less regressive.

County Executive Chris Abele proposed a $60 wheel tax on top of the $75 state wheel tax and a $20 city wheel tax. The county board proposed a $30 Milwaukee County wheel tax. This referendum just asks you whether you support Abele’s $60 wheel tax. The language of the referendum is as follows:

“Do you support County Executive Chris Abele’s proposal for a $60 Vehicle Registration Fee (wheel tax) to provide designated funding for transit and transportation-related projects?”


The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear the case to determine if Wisconsin Republicans’ redistricting maps are too partisan. Do you believe the U.S. Supreme Court will order Wisconsin to redraw our legislative maps so the majority of legislative districts are competitive and voters will actually have a real choice between a Democrat and Republican?

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