By John McCracken
BELLEVUE – In a 3-2 vote May 26, the Bellevue village board approved the extension of its $20 per-vehicle wheel tax resolution through the end of 2023.
Trustees Dave Kaster and Adam Gauthier voted against the motion while Trustees John Sinkler, Tom Katers and Village President Steve Soukup voted to extend the wheel tax.
The original wheel tax resolution was implemented in May 2019 and was set to expire this year.
The village board at the time considered the wheel tax for the purpose of reducing special assessments, while also putting a maximum cap on special assessments for road projects.
When the wheel tax was initially implemented, village staff estimated it would generate roughly $140,000 a year.
After updated mapping from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and correct vehicle registrations within the village, Village Administrator Diane Wessel said the wheel tax has generated $244,000 a year.
To date, the wheel tax has collected $486,000.
Soukup said he sees the advantages of the wheel tax, but wants additional time to weigh the benefit, and suggested extending the wheel tax through the end of the year 2023.
“People I’ve talked to with it understand, and I think there have been some people who’ve benefited from it and they understand it also,” Soukup said.
In 2020, $168,000 from the wheel tax was committed to reduce special assessments.
So far this year, $64,000 has been committed to the special assessment of roughly 20 properties along Manitowoc Road affected by road construction planned for later this year.
“I don’t want to see an escalator,” Katers said. “I don’t want to see inflation. It’s a number that’s too high and a number that’s higher than our neighboring municipalities.”
$1.6 million incoming
Bellevue will receive $1,668,835 from the federal government as a part of the American Rescue Plan with the first round of funds expected around June 11.
The federal dollars have to be spent, allocated or committed for projects by the end of 2024, but funding used for large-scale projects can be extended through the end of 2026.
“When I look at a project, it doesn’t seem like a lot of money,” Soukup said. “It’s gone with one project.”
Funding is determined by a municipality’s population, as it relates to the state as a whole.
Wessel said village staff is looking into possible projects they could tackle with the incoming dollars, which include broadband access and expansion, sewer and water infrastructure, and areas affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some communities are looking at park and recreational facilities,” Wessel said.
In April, the board unanimously approved $35,000 of American Rescue Plan funds for the creation of a grant program to assist Steffens Court businesses with upwards of $5,000 in relief available per business.