Green Bay Mayor brings back wheel tax proposal in upcoming city budget

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt is trying to change the way the city pays for road improvements and he hopes to pass it in his upcoming city budget.

Appleton has had a vehicle registration fee, also known as a wheel tax, since 2015. Within the first year, it raised more than $1,275,000 and now the mayor hopes Green Bay takes the same route.

“I think we all use the roads, we can all support infrastructure and enhancement here inGreen Bay and that is why I am proposing the wheel tax for the next 4 years,” said Mayor Schmitt.

The cost per vehicle, $20, would generate about $2 million in the first year according to Green Bay’s Public Works Director Steve Grenier.

“We have an aging infrastructure that continues to get worse every day and unfortunately, for all of us, the answer to fixing it is money,” said Grenier. “We either have to generate it through a vehicle registration fee, through borrowing, which we will pay interest on for the next 10-20 years, or we raise taxes.”

Grenier said wheel tax revenue would be used for repairing railroad crossings, bridge maintenance, alley repairs and possibly sidewalks.

The tax’s biggest impact would be eliminating special assessments for people in the city.

Right now, Green Bay homeowners pay some fees associated with resurfacing or reconstructing the roads outside their property and sometimes the bill can be thousands of dollars.

“That’s one of the things we hear from residents all the time,” said Grenier. “It's not that they are against the project, but they are opposed to paying the assessments that go along with that project.

Green Bay City Council members voted ‘no’ on a wheel tax proposal earlier this year, but Mayor Schmitt is hoping to bring it back into play to help pay for infrastructure.