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Politics & Government

Milwaukee Voters Reject Notion of $60 Wheel Tax

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Voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea.

In a referendum that is advisory only, Milwaukee County voters turned thumbs down to the idea of an expanded vehicle registration fee. The county just enacted its first, in 2017.

Last fall, County Executive Chris Abele included a $60 wheel tax in his 2017 county budget. The County Board approved half - a $30 tax, but also put the bigger question on Tuesday's ballot. Voters rejected the idea, 72%-28%.

Abele says the wheel tax is the only option the state has given local governments for raising revenue, and Milwaukee County desperately needs an infusion of new cash to continue funding its transit system while also reducing debt.

Opponents of the tax insist the county should live within residents' means and cut services if necessary.

Despite Tuesday's "No" vote, Abele has said he expects to raise the issue again, likely in the 2018 county budget.

The state charges a $75 annual vehicle registration fee. The City of Milwaukee tags on $20, and Milwaukee County began adding $30, in 2017.

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