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Wheelage tax increase approved: County Board briefs

County Board unanimously approved increasing the wheelage tax, which is charged when drivers renew their license plate tabs, from $10 to $20 per vehicle, effective January 2019.

The increased tax, which does not apply to motorcycles, mopeds, trailers and non-motorized campers, will fully fund the county's pavement preservation program, said Wayne Sandberg, deputy public works director and county engineer, at the July 3 board meeting.

"Since 2007, the wheelage tax has been the backbone, the foundation of our pavement preservation program," Sandberg said, adding that more than 60 miles of highway have been repaired using funding from the tax.

Travel on Washington County roads has increased by 12.5 percent since 2013. And since 2009, construction material costs have increased by 22.8 and labor costs have risen by 17 percent.

"Fixing our roads is more expensive now than it ever has been," Sandberg said.

Projects in 2019 include repairing county highway 27 with Ramsey County, improving pavement on Manning Trail North and adding turn lanes and safety improvements to Bailey Road between Pioneer Drive and Wellington Lane.

Commissioners spoke in support of the tax increase, emphasizing the need to maintain roads amid population growth and increased travel in Washington County.

In other news...

• The board approved a $185,447 grant agreement between the county and the Minnesota Department of Human Services for July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

Meeting watch

The Tuesday July 3, 2018, County Board meeting lasted about one hour. All commissioners were present.

— compiled by Jackie Renzetti, staff writer