Eau Claire City Council votes to seek partnership with county over $30 wheel tax

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Eau Claire County Board is set to propose a $30 wheel tax fee to help cover the cost of road repairs throughout the county. Now the Eau Claire City Council is looking to even the field.

Tuesday night, the Eau Claire City Council voted 9-0 to approve the resolution asking the Eau Claire County Board to partner with the city in implementing the wheel tax as part of the 2019 budget process.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the council discussed the “fairness” of the $30 wheel tax, which would charge residents of the city of Eau Claire.

Acting president of the Eau Claire City Council, Andrew Werthmann says, “almost ¾ of the people paying wouldn’t see the road repairs in front of their homes.”

"That's a big deal,” says Acting President of the council, Andrew Werthmann. “And so the resolution today, the discussion we saw is really around a matter of fairness."

Like the county, the council says the city struggles to maintain its roads. The council says the city of Eau Claire’s roads see 72 percent of Eau Claire County’s automobiles.

“You know we have the same problems with our roads, and we're trying to fund them,” says Werthmann. “So we need to be fair with how we're using folks’ dollars.”

The resolution seeks a "fair distribution" of the wheel tax revenue: 70 percent to the city and 30 percent to the county, along with a working collaboration.

“I think that this is something that we should have been doing a lot sooner,” says Lydia Boerboom, Eau Claire County Board Supervisor for District 16. “I think this does open up a line of communication between the city and county on this issue specifically.”

The idea is that the Joint Commission on Shared Services Initiatives would take up the work, but Werthmann says that committee hasn't met in over a year.

“I think this is a great initiative to get that started back up and it shows why we need a committee like that,” says Boerboom.

“There are newly elected leaders in both city county and school board,” adds Werthmann. “So it's time to revisit what that should be. It's something that this commission could do moving forward.

There is no word yet that the Eau Claire County Board has decided to partner with the city council.

The Eau Claire County Board is set to discuss the $30 wheel tax during its meeting on July 17.