Chippewa County

10 - 14

Ordinance to Create Art. III of Chapter 58 to Establish an Annual Vehicle Registration Fee


Department:Corporation Counsel DivisionSponsors:

Financial Impact

Estimated revenue generated from this fee is $520,000 to $530,000 annually for each of the 5 years. Per WisDOT, Chippewa County has over 53,000 registered vehicles that would not be exempt from this fee. The fee is $10 per vehicle. Department of Motor Vehicles gets $.10 per registration for collecting the fee and remitting it to the County.

ORD/RES Printout



Forwarded to the County Board by the Executive Committee

Meeting History

Aug 5, 2014 4:00 PM  Executive Committee Regular Meeting

Pascarella reviewed the PowerPoint (on file). The County currently has a deficit of -$571,987 and it will climb for the remainder of 2014. Salt prices increased 15% this year. The County has minimized the tax levy over the years. Hunt explained the County hasn't been taxing the population as much as we could have and that contributes to us having the lowest rate in the area. In 2014 we have $1,070,884 of unused levy authority. This number will change for 2015. The departments have no place they can cut. Chippewa County has the fourth largest County road lane miles in the state which adds to the cost of winter maintenance. When we bond they look to see if we have a consistent fund balance and if we have spikes or lows it will affect our bond rating.

Pascarella stated that other counties have used their sales tax to fund these operating services but then it creates a debt service payment tax and he doesn’t recommend increasing the use of the sales tax to cover this deficit.

Pascarella understands this is an unpopular option and there are citizen concerns that the tax will not sunset. However, staff members were appointed and the County Board Supervisors were elected to come up with long term solutions for these problems. He pointed out that on page one of the 2010 Baker Tilly report it was recommended the county go to a wheel tax. At that time it was considered to use the wheel tax for funding of highway operations. Stelzner noted the study also evaluated the lane miles and determined we are 30% less on maintenance compared to surrounding counties.

For Albarado it comes down to between raising the levy or the wheel tax. Hunt explained the levy cap has not increased so if we do this then it will impact our levy limit. Stelzner stated the only place he could cut from is the highway construction budget because that's where the most money is. However, if we do that then it negatively impacts the amount of match money that the County can get from the state and federal and it will impact other projects.

Shakal spoke with many citizens regarding this issue. At this time he cannot support the wheel tax but would support the levy. Leisz is in support of the wheel tax but also thinks the Highway Committee and County Administrator should work together to determine if the Highway Department is structured to deal with this long term issue and to find efficiencies. This is the hottest topic Zwiefelhofer has dealt with since he's been on the County Board. He feels the community needs to be educated on this issue before we move forward with it and he doesn’t like the timeline. Right now he's undecided but he would like it go to the County Board so it can be discussed.

Michels stated the Baker Tilly study shows we are operating efficiently. He also agrees we need to continue looking at Highway and all departments for efficiencies. He supports bringing this forward. He supports the language of designating the funds only for winter maintenance and the sunset language. He received both negative and positive feedback regarding this. He doesn't want this County Board to turn this million dollar problem into a bigger financial problem by not dealing with it.

MOVER:Mike Leisz, District 13
SECONDER:Anson Albarado, District 8
AYES:Paul Michels, Jared Zwiefelhofer, Anson Albarado, Mike Leisz
NAYS:Henry Shakal
Aug 12, 2014 6:00 PM  County Board Regular Meeting

Pascarella gave a presentation on the proposal for vehicle registration fee (copy on file). He stated that the winter maintenance is something we need to prepare for in a sustainable manner in the future.

Chippewa County , which has the 4th largest amount of highway miles in the State, has the lowest tax rate compared to surrounding counties. Pascarella commented that they have tried to meet the needs of the County Board by being fiscally responsible, not only in the winter maintenance fund, but also within all other departments within the County, as the tax rate shows.

The County is reimbursed by the State for services done on state highways. In 2013, the County was reimbursed $400,000 of the $455,000 that was spent to provide that service.

The more money that is taken out of the general fund for these type of anomalies, the less opportunity we will have in the future for any levy increases. Hunt commented that the County can not plan for anomalies, which is why they have to use the fund balance. Bad winters are now becoming a trend.

Supervisor Leisz asked if the County decided to add it to the levy, would it have to go to referendum? Hunt explained that currently, we can go up to the $17m that we are allowed to, but the number we can levy adjusts annually and the increase is dependent on net new construction.

Supervisor Willkom stated that constituents are not going to be happy with another tax and asked how many other counties currently have this as a tax. Right now, St. Croix county is the only one. Pascarella is taking an incremental approach on costs that are efficient, sustainable, and fiscally prudent.

Supervisor Ellis felt that the 5-years was too to address the issue. He was ok with doing it for 1 year and then within that year, come up with a future plan as to how the County would address the issue.

Supervisor Darrow commented that the response he has gotten from the constituents that he has spoken with, was the that the Highway Department has a lot of 'fat' and he could not support the vehicle registration fee until that issue is dealt with.

Supervisor Shakal felt it was important to deal with the issue before it got even worse stating it was our best, worst option.

For Supervisor Michels, he was being challenged by constituents with what the administrative costs for the Highway Department are and the rate on the turnover of equipment within the Highway Department.

Sep 9, 2014 7:00 PM  County Board Regular Meeting

Article III. Annual Vehicle Registration Fee

Sec. 58-60. This ordinance is adopted pursuant to the authority granted by Wisconsin Statutes §341.35.

Sec. 58-61. Purpose. The purpose of this ordinance is to provide the Chippewa County Highway Department with a source of funds in addition to other funding sources currently being utilized to refund and maintain the winter maintenance account.

Sec. 58-62. Definition. In this section, “motor vehicle” means an automobile or motor truck registered under §341.25(1)(c), Wis. Stats, at a gross weight of not more than 8,000 pounds, that is registered in this state and is customarily kept in Chippewa County.

Sec. 58-63. Annual Registration Fee. At the time a motor vehicle is first registered or at the time of registration renewal, the applicant shall pay a county vehicle registration fee of $10. This fee is in addition to other fees required by Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 341. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation shall collect the fee. Use of funds generated by this registration fee shall be restricted to Highway Department winter maintenance expenses.

Sec. 58-64. Exemptions. The following motor vehicles are exempt from the annual vehicle registration fee:

(a) All vehicles exempted by Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 341 from payment of state vehicle registration fee

(b) All vehicles registered by the state under Wisconsin Statutes §341.26 for a fee of $5.

Sec. 58-65. Replacements. No county vehicle registration fee may be imposed on a motor vehicle which is a replacement for a motor vehicle for which a current county vehicle registration fee has been paid.

Sec. 58-66. Administrative costs. The DOT shall retain a portion of the moneys collected under this section equip to the actual administrative costs related to the collection of these fees (currently $0.10 per vehicle).

Sec. 58-67. Effective Date. This ordinance shall take effect on January 1, 2015.

Sec. 58-68. Sunset Date. This vehicle registration fee is being imposed to refund the depleted Chippewa County Highway Department Winter Maintenance Fund and to provide funding to maintain that fund. This registration fee will therefore sunset at midnight on January 1, 2020 after the fund has been restored.

2. This ordinance will take effect after publication on January 1, 2015.

Forward to the County Board by the Executive Committee

MOVER:Mike Leisz, District 13
SECONDER:Steve Gerrish, District 10
AYES:Paul Michels, Henry Shakal, Glen Sikorski, Michael A. Goettl, Anson Albarado, Steve Gerrish, Florian Skwierczynski, Mike Leisz
NAYS:Bill Stimeling, Jared Zwiefelhofer, Lee Mcllquham, Lawrence J. Willkom, Doug Ellis, Leigh Darrow
ABSENT:Brittani Zammit