Madison mayor to propose vehicle registration fee to combat budg - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison mayor to propose vehicle registration fee to combat budget shortfall

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison car owners could be paying more next year, as Mayor Paul Soglin asks Madison Common Council to consider a vehicle registration fee to make up for a city budget shortfall.

Soglin plans to propose the $17 fee at Tuesday's meeting and while he said the city has held off on a fee like this before, he believes Madison is running out of options.

"Through our traditional revenues, I'm not sure we're gonna have the income to pay for all these operating expenses," he said.

Soglin said that includes increased costs for infrastructure and public safety, including the police and fire departments, but Alder Paul Skidmore said this solution isn't fair to those living in Madison. 

"The council is voting to increase spending and then passing the bill onto the taxpayers," he said.

Skidmore said the council should be able to find funding by cutting back or deferring city projects until there's enough money in the budget to cover them.

"We should look at how much do we need to spend to do what we need to do," he said.

Skidmore is also concerned the so-called "wheel tax" is regressive, which means it costs the same for families across income levels. It's a concern the mayor said he shares and is hoping to address.

"We've always rejected it principally because it is a regressive tax, so we're not very pleased about that," Soglin said. "If we were to to have such a fee we'd much rather see it based on the value of the vehicle or its fuel efficiency."

He said he's looking at finding a way to include household income as a factor to potentially waive the fee for low-income families. 

This would be the city's first registration fee but Dane County added a $28 fee last year. That means Madison drivers would be paying a combined $45 annually on top of what they would typically pay the state to register their car.

Drivers like Eva Grosz said, for her, that adds up.

"I know at least for me as a young professional $17 is a lot of money," she said.

Living downtown, she said this fee, combined with the cost of parking, could put her in a financial bind.

"I didn't notice the true cost of owning a vehicle until I moved to Madison," Grosz said.

For the fee to pass, Soglin said the council needs to vote to approve it by September 4th. That way they can revisit the option in the fall, when they're putting together their budget for next year. The fee would only become a reality if the council chooses to include it in the 2019 budget.

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