Wheel tax is growing in popularity as a way for cities and counties to pay for road work. Here are the basics about the revenue stream.
Sari Lesk/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

GREEN BAY — City officials continue to kick the tires on a proposal to impose a yearly tax on private vehicles as a way to pay for street improvements.

State law authorizes municipalities to impose a wheel tax on most vehicles weighing less than 8,000 pounds as long as the money is used for transportation purposes.

Although no communities in Brown County impose the tax, 12 cities, two villages, one town and five counties in the state do, according to Green Bay Public Works Director Steve Grenier. 

RELATED: Wheel tax popularity grows in Wisconsin

The City Council last fall directed Grenier to study the issue and make a recommendation. He is now proposing a $20 annual fee on vehicles meeting the state specifications, which exempts farm vehicles, trucks weighing more than 8,000 pounds, motor homes and certain special plate vehicles.

The tax would raise about $2.1 million per year, based on an estimate of 105,000 taxable vehicles in the city, that could be used for transportation-related work only.

The council will consider his recommendation when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers of City Hall.

Grenier is proposing to use about half of the tax proceeds to do away with most of the assessments charged to property owners when streets are repaired or replaced.

Under the current practice, the city borrows money to fund its share of street repair and replacement, and property owners fronting that road or street are billed a percentage of the cost. That cost could come to a few thousand dollars, depending on the linear feet of frontage and the type…