Commisioners to consider new taxes for county

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners will consider a resolution Tuesday, June 25, supporting a wheelage tax of $10 per vehicle, beginning in January 2014.

The 2013 Legislature approved the expansion of the wheelage tax authority to all 87 Minnesota counties. The tax applies to most vehicles except motorcycles, trailers and collector vehicles, according to the Request for Board Action (RBA) on the county agenda.

Brown County needs to notify the state by Aug. 1, 2013 if it intends to collect the wheelage tax. It is estimated that Brown County’s 28,600 vehicles subject to the tax would yield about $286,000 a year for transportation expenses, according to the RBA.

The new draft Five-Year Construction Program shows an unmet need of $18,950,000 in transportation projects that should be in the five-year plan but are not due to the funding shortage, according to the RBA.

Some of the county road surfaces are more than 20 years old and in poor condition. Much more money would have to be spent patching large parts of the old roads if they fail, which is most likely in the spring, according to the RBA. The Brown County Highway Committee agreed this item should be considered.

Commissioners will also consider:

Imposing a Local Option Sales Tax, after the 2013 Legislature approved the authority of county governments to impose the tax following public hearings. Referendum votes are not needed to approve the tax, according to the RBA.

The rate can be up to one-half of one percent. Tax proceeds must be dedicated exclusively to a specific transportation or transit project and must terminate when revenues are sufficient to fund the project, according to the RBA.

It has been estimated that Brown County would receive about $1,102,000 in one year from a one-half one one percent sales tax. Even if the local option sales tax was collected for five years for several projects, the County would still be $13 million short of its need. The Brown County Highway Committee agreed this item should be considered.

Increasing the county probation officer on-call rates to $135 or $150 per weekend. Probation officers are required to be “on call” on weekends. They received phone calls from law enforcement asking if someone should be held in jail, detention or released; electronic monitoring firms call about people using or absconding; parents call on curfew, absconding or use violations; and other probation officers seeking case advice, according to the RBA.

The county board meeting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the courthouse commissioner’s room.

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