City of

District 16

Alder Jael Currie

Image of Alder Jael Currie

Alder Jael Currie

Contact Information

Home Address:

2017 Ellen Ave
Madison , WI 53716

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Currie’s Updates

Wheel Tax and Proposed Budget

November 3, 2019 11:20 PM

Wheel Tax and Proposed Budget

I voted against the wheel tax proposal when it reached the floor of the Common Council.  However, the proposal did pass with 11 votes and the wheel tax is likely to begin in February of 2020.  The tax will be collected when you pay your annual vehicle registration fee.

I received a large volume of emails from City of Madison residents in opposition to the tax.  I did try to respond to individuals that provided a street address in the 16th District, but I may have missed a few.  Hopefully, if I did miss you, you are now receiving this update.

Although the wheel tax revenue is a central component of the operating budget proposed by the Mayor, the tax itself had to be addressed outside of the budget process.  This is due to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation needing to collect it within the timeframe required for the City to receive the total amount of revenue built into the 2020 budget.

I understand the timing, but still found it awkward to have a vote on initiating the tax at a time when the final contents of the operational budget were not known.

When the Finance Committee met to vote on amendments to the operating budget, I put my name on amendments to make cuts to the operating budget that I hoped would be sufficient to fund a 9th ambulance in the city and to add as many as 6 additional police officers.  The cuts were items that fell into the category of "wants" for the most part. That is not to say they were items that are unimportant. Rather, these were items that I believe we could honestly live without.  The amendments for cuts failed, as did the 9th ambulance amendment.  While an amendment to add 3 officers was defeated, other amendments to add officers were not acted on.

After the Finance Committee meeting, I then had to consider how much more residents of the 16th District stood to see in increased property and wheel taxes, if the Finance version of the budget passes, while at the same time seeing no appreciable increase in the level of public safety services – namely ambulance service and additional police officers.  Using the assumption that most households have two cars, I calculated that the owner of a home in the 16th district with one of the lower assessed values would see total tax increases of about $126 and the owner of one of the higher value homes would pay a total of about $219 more in combined taxes.  I was compelled to vote against the wheel tax.

I believe that the operational budget that is passed by the Council must include public safety improvements.

Take ambulance service for example. The last time the city put an additional ambulance in service was in 2010.  The city had a population of approximately 233,000 at the time and a smaller geographic footprint.  Now estimates indicate we have a population that likely exceeds 260,000 and the geographic footprint of the city has grown larger with annexations – including portions of the former Town of Blooming Grove being added to the 16th District.

There are times when portions of the 16th District do not see an ambulance arrive until nearly 20 minutes after 911 has been called.  When the ambulance from Station 5 on Cottage Grove Road is on a call, then an ambulance will be dispatched from Station 6 on West Badger Road or Station 8 on Lien Rd.  An ambulance providing care for a person in the 16th District then has to transport a patient to the level 1 trauma center at UW Hospital, or the level 2 center at St. Mary's, or the level 3 center at Meriter – all on the west or near west side of Madison.  Minutes count when it comes to the provision of emergency medical care and I believe that funds available under levy limits first need to be used to address ambulance and other public safety needs before any other new spending is considered. 

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