Wisconsin Rental Tax Increase to Pay for Commuter Trains

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle will back a $13 increase in the rental car tax affecting Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties to pay for new commuter trains, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The plan was recommended last week by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority and requires approval from the state Legislature. The tax increase emerged as the consensus choice after Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker refused to agree to a local sales tax.

Federal and state aid and fares are expected to cover most of the line's $198 million construction cost and $10.9 million-a-year operating cost, leaving the RTA to raise $4.2 million a year through the rental car tax, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

During last week’s RTA meeting, county representatives turned down a plan coupling the rental car tax increase with legislation allowing local governments to seek a sales tax of up to 0.5 percent to replace property tax support for their bus systems.

The motion was changed to commit the RTA to finding some other funding source for local buses, without mentioning any particular tax. That measure was adopted unanimously.

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