Wheelage tax

RESOLUTION NO. 13-0248R1, 2013

WHEREAS, the overarching goals of Hennepin County for transportation, as defined in the Hennepin County Transportation Systems Plan (adopted November 29, 2011) are to: (1) Preserve and modernize the existing transportation system, (2) Improve safety for all transportation users, (3) Provide mobility and choice to meet the diversity of transportation needs as well as to support health objectives throughout the county, (4) Increase the spatial efficiency of system and (5) Reduce the County’s environmental footprint; and

WHEREAS, the cost of meeting the identified transportation goals has continued to escalate; and

WHEREAS, the State’s modification of the “Wheelage Tax” Statute, Minn. Stat. § 163.051, in the 2013 Legislative Session (2013 Minn. Laws ch. 117, art. 3, sec. 4) provides the County with an enhanced user fee revenue option to support these goals; and

WHEREAS, the current funding to finance preservation of roads and bridges has resulted in an unacceptably low “Ride Rating” for concrete and asphalt pavement roads; and

WHEREAS, the current level of funding has limited the County’s capacity to proactively advance safety; and

WHEREAS, the current level of funding has led the County to forego the replacement of temporary traffic signals for over 15 years, leading to increasing signal malfunctions and high maintenance costs; and

WHEREAS, the current level of funding has not allowed the placement of battery backup power systems for traffic signals, thus compromising safety in times of power loss; and

WHEREAS, the current level of funding has not allowed routine painting and repairs on traffic signal poles, mast arms and signal heads at all intersections, thus prematurely reducing the integrity of the system due to loss of protective coatings and failing to meet community standards for appearance; and

WHEREAS, the current level of funding has limited maintenance activities, such as nuisance weed control, vegetation and tree management, routine roadway sweeping and conversion of incandescent lights to light-emitting diode (LED) lights, thus degrading the appearance of our transportation system and water quality in the County, and increasing maintenance costs to the County and our cities; and

WHEREAS, the current level of funding is not adequate to build numerous projects currently included as line items in the County Capital Improvement Plan; and

WHEREAS, the County Capital Improvement Plan also identifies more than twenty transportation projects for which no funding is available; and

WHEREAS, property tax support for roads in Hennepin County is at historically high levels; and

WHEREAS, public testimony was taken on July 9th at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Public Works, Energy and Environment Committee of the Hennepin County Board; therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners hereby authorizes and imposes a wheelage tax as provided in Minnesota Statutes 163.051, as amended by 2013 Minn. Laws, ch. 117, art. 3, sec. 4, of $10 per year on each motor vehicle, except vehicles as defined in Minnesota Statutes 163.051,subd.1(b), which is kept in Hennepin County when not in operation and which is subject to annual taxation and registration under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 168; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners hereby requests that the wheelage tax be collected by the State Registrar of Motor Vehicles, as provided for in Minnesota Statutes 163.051, subdivision 1(a); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners hereby directs the Hennepin County Administrator to certify the tax to the State Registrar of Motor Vehicles before August 1, 2013 and that the tax be effective January 1, 2014; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the County Administrator be authorized to negotiate an agreement with Dakota County for Hennepin County's share of the one-time startup costs of the wheelage tax collection system incurred by Dakota County on behalf of the metropolitan counties;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the County Administrator be directed to use for the next four years at least $2 million per year of the wheelage tax for the reduction of the debt service property tax levy for previously issued highway related debt; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that over a five year period, funds generally will be spent according to the priorities identified in the attached July 15, 2013 Draft Operational Plan and as follows:

Preservation (approximately $17 million) including advancing required maintenance on bridges and retaining walls throughout the county (ultimately increasing the integrity of the bridges and walls), increasing the ride quality for roadways to a level of 67% being rated as “good” or “better” within a five year time frame and painting over 250 signals over a three year period (extending the integrity of signal poles and mast arms for years to come);

Efficiency (more than $2 million) including synchronizing 69 intersections each year (minimizing traffic delay and providing savings to the traveling public and fuel costs);

Safety (more than $6.5 million) including placement of thermoplastic roadway striping and markings (eliminating the need to replace annually water based striping and marking), replacement of guardrail and end treatments to protect the traveling public, elimination of all span wire signalized intersections within two years (eliminating high maintenance costs and providing intersections with permanent safer signalized equipment) and integration of battery backup systems at 40 priority intersections; and

Modernization (approximately $1 million) including converting all incandescent bulbs to light emitting diodes (LED) in the first year and integrating smart signal equipment at intersections (increase efficiency and reduce maintenance costs).

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an updated condition report for county roads and bridges will be prepared every three years.