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Milwaukee County Executive pushes for wheel tax increase

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he doesn't want to increase the wheel tax from $30 to $60.

"It's not like anybody likes the idea," Abele said. "I don't like the idea."

But he says shrinking state support makes it necessary.

"In 2007, Milwaukee County got $340 million from the state, in 2015 we got 170."

County Supervisor Deanna Alexander says the tax increase would hurt low income families the most.

"Those families are more likely to have difficulty coming up with 100 dollars or 150 dollars."

Abele tried to increase the wheel tax by $60 last year, but the county board shot it down, opting for a $30 increase instead.

County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb says the extra road services aren't worth the increased fees.

"Live within your means," Lipscomb said. "We can't just give you a blank check."

The board issued a referendum that showed 72 percent of Milwaukee voters opposed the plan.

"It just strikes me as tone deaf that the executive would ignore voters," Lipscomb said. "They were very clear."

Abele says there's no way around the tax, unless the county board finds some other way to balance the county budget.

"If someone decides that they don't like this idea, they will have to decide which other services they are going to cut, or which other fees they are going to raise."

County board members say they'll have a better idea how to balance the budget once County Executive Abele releases it.

The deadline for that is October 1.

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