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Wheelage tax or sales tax? – Meeker County to decide
JULY 15, 2013

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

MEEKER COUNTY, MN – The Meeker County Board would like some input as it makes a decision regarding imposing a proposed $10 wheelage tax for road maintenance.

The wheelage tax was first passed by the legislature in 1972, for counties in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, at a rate of $5 per vehicle, through the tab renewal process or directly from the taxpayers.

The revenue generated from the wheelage tax must then be used only for “highway purposes.”

This year, the wheelage tax was expanded, giving the right to all counties in Minnesota to pass a resolution authorizing the tax. With that, the amount was also raised to $10. In 2018, however, that amount would be raised to $20, according to information from the Association of Minnesota Counties.

If Meeker County would pass a resolution in favor of imposing a wheelage tax, the amount generated would be approximately $225,000 annually.

The concept was first introduced to the county board during its July 2 meeting, at which time a motion to impose the wheelage tax failed.

Mike Housman, District 4 commissioner, noted the reason for it not passing was due in large part to how it would affect the budget and therefore, taxpayers.

The wheelage tax, if passed, would affect the budget process, which the county is currently in the midst of setting.

Housman explained that some counties would use the tax to increase spending on roads, whereas others would alleviate the burden on taxpayers by substituting property taxes.

“It’s a choice we make when we do the budgeting,” Housman said, adding that it has yet to be determined.

There is also another option for the county passed by the legislature.

Counties can now choose to impose a half-cent sales tax, which, in Meeker County, would amount to approximately $673,534 on an annual basis (according to 2011 taxable sales).

The wheelage tax would only require the county to pass a resolution, without having a public hearing. It was noted that this must be done by Thursday, Aug. 1 in order for the state to impose the tax on this year’s registrants.

There are exemptions to this particular tax, as well.

The wheelage tax applies to most vehicles. Exempt are motorcycles, recreational vehicles, prorate (MN trailer), mopeds, contract trailers, semi trailers, farm trailers, state-owned and tax-exempt vehicles, utility trailers, street rods, pioneer, classic, and collector and classic motorcycles.

If the county considers the half-cent sales tax, the board would need to hold a public hearing.

More discussion on this topic will take place at the board meeting Tuesday, July 16 at 10 a.m.

Housman encourages the public to attend and share its input regarding this decision.

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