Follow Up: “Wheelage Tax” Paying for Stearns Road Projects
ST. CLOUD -- Back in the fall of 2013, the Stearns County Board of Commissioners approved tacking on $10 to vehicle license tab renewals called a "Wheelage Tax." The additional funding is to help pay for a road construction project backlog. In today's installment of "Whatever Happened With That?" we give you an update on the tax four years later.
Stearns County Engineer Jodi Teich says there was a $10-million annual funding shortfall on road construction projects before they started collecting "Wheelage Tax" in January 2014. Since then, the tax has paid for seven road projects in communities like Avon, Waite Park, Sauk Centre, St. Joseph, Holdingford and St. Cloud.
Teich says county commissioners wanted the extra funding to go to a specific purpose...
The Stearns County board was very clear that they wanted it used for pavement improvements throughout the county. So, knowing that we get somewhere between $1.35-million and $1.4-million a year, that's how we budget it for the actual construction costs for those projects.
Teich says each year, the "Wheelage Tax" pays for 4-to-5 miles of resurfacing work.
Projects slated for this year include resurfacing County Road 136 from County Road 115 in St. Augusta to 33rd Street South in St. Cloud and County Road 14 east of Spring Hill.
In July 2017, county commissioners approved an additional one-quarter-percent sales tax which will help pay for the significant backlog of road construction projects. The two taxes combined, are meant to help catch up on the $10-million annual shortfall. Even so, Teich says there remains a deficit of approximately $4-million every year.
Here is a list of the projects so far which have been funded in part, or completely using the "Wheelage Tax":
2014: CSAH 9 resurfacing from CR 155 in Avon to CSAH 52 just north of St. Anna; construction cost: $1,329,111.05 (all Wheelage Tax)
2015: CSAH 137 resurfacing along 7th Street South in Waite Park from 600’ west of 10th Avenue to CR 135/2nd Ave S; construction cost: $456,941.08 (all Wheelage Tax)
CSAH 75 resurfacing from 700’ north of 33rd Street S in St. Cloud to 22nd
Street S; Total construction cost: $1,502,137.51 ($881,000 from Wheelage Tax, the remainder from state aid construction funds)
2016: CR 186 resurfacing from the Sauk River ½ mile west of TH 4 to 395th Street – southeast of Sauk Centre; Total construction cost: $509,424.44 ($125,000 from Wheelage Tax, the remainder from county levy funds)
CSAH 17 resurfacing from Opole to Holdingford, budgeted and bids opened in 2016, construction 2017; Total construction cost: Total construction cost (to date): $1,903,083.96 ($1,313,083.95 from Wheelage Tax, the remainder from state aid)
2017: CR 134 resurfacing in St. Joseph from 1st Ave to CSAH 75; county construction cost: $428,087.96 (all Wheelage Tax)
CR 155 resurfacing from CSAH 9 in Avon to CSAH 3; total construction cost: $977,668.26 ($877,668.26 from Wheelage Tax, the remainder from levy)