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Letter: County Board slips in wheelage tax without input

To the Editor:

Imagine my shock when I accessed the Republican Eagle online Sunday morning and read that the Goodhue County Board passed a $10 per vehicle wheelage tax.

I quickly searched the website and found no other references to the possible passage of a wheelage tax in Goodhue County. Indeed, I found a reference last April to the Legislature expanding the wheelage tax to all counties outside the metro ring, but nothing else. And nothing relating to the possibility of Goodhue County passing this tax that was public information outside the halls of Goodhue County itself.

I checked the commissioners’ packet for July 26 and found the item on the agenda, but it appeared to be under consideration as well as a local sales tax option. However, the sales tax option would require a public hearing; the wheelage tax could be passed immediately with no citizen input.

Basically, citizens had little information about the wheelage tax proposal and hardly any idea it would be immediately passed. There is no sunset provision with the tax, and it will exist forever, and can be raised any time.

The Goodhue County Board must vote to repeal it.

It should especially be noted that the gas tax is divided among all local governments: townships, cities and counties. But the wheelage tax will only benefit county roads; no money will go to township road maintenance.

So, thank you, commissioners for stabbing every citizen in the back by passing this tax so quickly and thank you, Republican Eagle, for not letting citizens know the passage of this tax was a distinct possibility for the July 26 meeting.

Every person in Goodhue County who owns a taxable vehicle will pay this $10 tax regardless of whether they can afford it: retired, working, teenager, etc.

My guess is the implementation of this tax is to repair road damage that will be done by hundreds of trucks hauling frac sand as soon as Goodhue County removes its moratorium in the next couple of weeks.

It appears citizens are now being taxed to support the billion-dollar fracking industry because mining is not going to capture enough tax dollars to support the damage to the roads and environment.

Of course, the township roads will be damaged also, but townships are on their own for the repair bills.

Gaye Larson

Red Wing