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St. Louis County Board Passes Up Vehicle Tax

Wednesday, July 31, 2013  
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More than half of Minnesota’s 87 counties will be charging their drivers an extra $10 per vehicle each year to pay for road repairs, but not St. Louis County.

The County Board voted 6-0 Tuesday for a resolution opposing a $10-per-car "wheelage tax” that would have pumped an extra $1.5 million into road construction each year.

The wheelage tax was approved by the 2013 Minnesota Legislature after pressure by counties in need of more money to repair local roads, but each county board must vote to opt in.

St. Louis is one of the few large metropolitan counties to oppose a wheelage fee. Hennepin, Ramsey, Stearns and Olmsted counties all have approved the fee in recent days, among at least 46 counties that have jumped on board, said Julie Ring of the Association of Minnesota Counties.

In Northeastern Minnesota, Itasca and Pine counties approved a wheelage fee on their drivers. But Cook, Lake, Carlton and Aitkin will not have the fee — at least not this year. Counties can revisit the new tax each year before Aug. 1. The new tax, where approved, will be charged starting in 2014 when vehicle owners renew their license tabs.

St. Louis County commissioners appeared divided 4-2 against the tax, with the majority saying drivers already are being nickeled and dimed by gas taxes, license fees and other taxes. After several unusual parliamentary moves, however, the final vote ended up 6-0 against the new fee.