Does Milwaukee County need to increase its wheel tax?

My Take

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele wants to double the county’s annual “wheel tax” to $60. Otherwise, the county will need to make significant cuts, Abele said. County board chairman Theodore Lipscomb opposes the wheel tax increase and says county spending can be reduced without impacting critical services.


Chris Abele

County executive


Abele’s budget proposal

“I introduced a budget that maintains transit, puts new resources into combatting the opioid epidemic and ending homelessness, improves quality of life and protects vital services for some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Wheel tax

“I proposed a balanced budget that included $30.8 million in new revenue and $30.4 million in expense reductions. That new revenue included the difficult, but necessary, decision to propose a $60 vehicle registration fee. The county cannot maintain our current levels of service without new revenue.”

Budget cuts

“Lipscomb introduced his budget proposal that cuts $15 million in services. Public safety will be hit the hardest. The sheriff and house of correction will suffer nearly $1 million in cuts. Social services administered through the Department on Aging and Department of Health and Human Services will be slashed by nearly $1 million. Parks and the zoo will be cut by nearly $500,000.”


Theodore Lipscomb

County board chairman


Abele’s budget proposal

“I will probably support about 97 percent of the budget proposed by Abele. Yet, there are a few important changes that will be necessary. The comptroller identified a $1.3 million shortfall in the Abele budget, which will need to be addressed.”

Wheel tax

“The (county) executive’s proposal to increase the wheel tax to $60 per vehicle was rejected by 72 percent of voters earlier this year. While I don’t disagree with the general thesis that we need more revenue, I’m not going to dismiss such a strong message from my constituents. We need a more balanced approach.”

Budget cuts

“You may have read about a list of extreme cuts if the wheel tax increase doesn’t pass. This was a scare tactic that used a list of cuts provided directly by the Abele administration and does not reflect any of my ideas. I have requested departments identify other new revenue ideas and areas of potential savings of 2 percent and 5 percent that least impact critical services.”

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display