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Bill Would Allow Local Votes For Road Projects

Counties Could Ask Voters To Temporarily Raise Sales Taxes For Construction

Tom Woodward (CC-BY-SA)

The state Legislature is scheduled to take up a bill that would allow counties to temporarily raise taxes to pay for road projects.

The measure would allow counties to ask permission from voters to raise their sales tax up to 0.5 percent. The higher tax rate would expire after four years, but voters would have the opportunity to extend it by passing another referendum.

Opponents of the proposal said it passes the buck for infrastructure fixes to local taxpayers. But Patrick Goss, executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, said it’s “ludicrous” to call the bill a tax increase.

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“How do you say you’re voting for a tax increase when what you’re really doing is, you’re enabling your constituents, your citizens, to make that decision?” Goss said.

Proponents of the bill said it provides much-needed funding for road repairs.

Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy group, said the bill amounts to “double taxation” of communities.

“Why should communities have to a pay a gas tax that is not returned to their community, and if they want the roads fixed impose a new tax on them?” Hiniker said.

The Assembly is scheduled to take up the bill on Tuesday.