GREEN BAY, Wisc. (WFRV) Driving your car may soon become even more expensive.
A recommendation set to go before the State Legislature in January may include an increase in the gas tax, an increase in registration fees and a new mileage fee.
The Wisconsin Transportation Finance and Policy Commission, established in 2011 to examine the financial health of the state's transportation fund, will be making the recommendation after noticing a shortfall of about $5 billion over the next 10 years.
Commissioner Tom Vandenberg says that while the gas tax is the largest source of revenue for the state's transportation fund, people are driving less and using more fuel efficient cars which means less money coming in. Because of that fact, funds must be raised in order to keep up with the projected needs of the transportation system.
"If we are unwilling to transfer funds from the general fund to the transportation fund, if we are unwilling to expand the base of taxation, then we're going to look at either increases in direct user fees or diminished services."
The gas tax, unchanged since 2006, has drivers paying 32.9 cents of every dollar paid at the pump. Vandenberg says if everyone in the transportation department had their way, the gas tax would have to increase another 19 cents. Vandenberg does not believe that sharp of an increase will happen.
"We're looking at the whole range of options for both ensuring the integrity of the transportation fund, improving the efficiency of the outlay, but also taking a look at other means of raising revenue for the fund."
If the mileage fee is approved, every automobile and light truck owner would pay a set amount per mile driven, based on their odometer reading. The Commission is currently looking at 1.5 cents for every mile driven. For the average driver, that would equate to $115 up to $130 per year over the next 10 years.
"It's going to be a question of the level of funding that the citizens want and are willing to pay for," Vandenberg says.
The Commission will meet again in December to finalize their report and recommendation before submitting it to the State Legislature. Ultimately, it will be up to the Legislature to approve. If passed, drivers could see an increase in the gas tax and registration fees as early as next year. The mileage fee could be in place in two years from now.