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Why is Wauwatosa Considering a Vehicle Registration Fee?

How this strategy reduces taxpayer costs in the long run
Post Date:08/17/2018 11:41 AM

wi mapWe have proposed a a $30 vehicle registration fee for vehicles registered to City of Wauwatosa addresses as part of our 2019 capital budget.

See a map of which municipalities have or are considering vehicle registration fees. (Note: Milwaukee County compiled this map in part from newspaper sources. It should not be considered "official," as this is a statewide topic currently being discussed by various communities.)

For decades, we didn’t adequately repair our streets, water pipes, sewer pipes and storm sewer. In government speak, we call this infrastructure. Our Common Council determined we should turn this around and begin making the necessary infrastructure updates. You have seen many examples of these updates over the past decade, from sewer work on Meinecke Avenue to replacing century old water pipes on Milwaukee Avenue and in the Village.

We primarily pay for this work with borrowed funds, but a solid financial practice would be to pay for at least a portion of our infrastructure work through cash on hand. Just the same as when we undertake a major project at our home, if we borrow funds, we pay interest. Adding interest to the dollar amount of the repair itself adds up over time. If we can pay cash for the work, it reduces our overall costs.

In fact, if we used the revenue from a vehicle registration fee to pay for roadwork over the next 25 years, the proposed vehicle registration fee would reduce our costs to do the work by $4.04 million dollars or about $176,000 each year by saving money on interest. This means that the vehicle registration fee will be saving you and Wauwatosa money in the long run.

Next Steps

The Financial Affairs Committee had a presentation on this topic on July 31, and you can watch the presentation and discussion in our Meeting Portal. The topic will next be discussed with the capital budget in September, October, and November. Watch our website for more details.

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