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Minnesota counties considering new wheelage tax

The Associated Press

7/5/2013

DULUTH, Minn. — County commissioners across the state are considering wheelage taxes for road repairs after the Legislature recently expanded the option beyond the Twin Cities' metro counties.

Brown, Mower and Rice counties already have approved the new tax, according to Julie Ring, legislative coordinator for the Association of Minnesota Counties.

Hennepin County will hold a public hearing Tuesday on the tax, with commissioners set to vote in mid-July, according to the Duluth News Tribune. St. Louis County commissioners are also debating on a $10 tax per vehicle but, so far, commissioners have made no decision.

Counties have to decide by Aug. 1 if they want to charge the tax in 2014. Otherwise, they'll have to wait another year.

While not all of the 225,336 vehicles registered in St. Louis County would be subject to the new tax, estimates show it could raise more than $1.5 million annually for county road repairs.

Previously, only Twin Cities metro counties had the authority to levy a $5 wheelage tax. Only Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott and Washington counties have actually charged their drivers.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Driver and Vehicle Services Division collects wheelage tax on behalf of those counties, paid at the time of vehicle registration. The money is doled out to each county and, by statute, must be used for road repairs.

The wheelage tax, which could be up to $10 per car or truck, is paid based on where the vehicle is ordinarily stored or parked during non-business hours or when not in use. The tax is applied to most cars and trucks, but not motorcycles, mopeds, trailers, boat trailers, collector cars or all-terrain vehicles.

Lawmakers also recently made it possible for Minnesota's 87 counties to impose a retail sales tax of a half-cent per $1 to help pay for transportation and transit projects. That would raise about $9.5 million annually for St. Louis County.

Information from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthnewstribune.com

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