Wheel tax killed, rate increase remains

Council rehashes discussions to show transparency to public

Shawano city officials ditched a proposed wheel tax Wednesday after hearing from an angry contingent of citizens opposed to it, but a spike in the city’s tax rate remained in place at the end of an exhaustive evening of debate.

The Shawano Common Council spent several hours haggling over how to cover the loss of roughly $99,000 in revenue that the vehicle registration fee was expected to bring in next year.

The council nearly went line by line through the city’s capital improvement projects budget — debating expenses that ranged from $8,400 to $25,000 — before coming to the perhaps foregone conclusion that the budget should be sent back to the finance committee, and that department heads should be asked to suggest cuts.

The council seemed determined to prove the transparency of local government to those in attendance by rehashing discussions previously held at finance committee meetings, then taking the time and trouble to explain that they really had discussed all of these things before.

On several occasions, council members plainly stated they were having the discussion to prove how transparent they are, even though a number of the roughly 50 people who attended had filtered out by then.

The council ultimately voted to keep the proposed tax levy for 2018 untouched — meaning the 60-cent per $1,000 increase in the city’s tax rate stays intact — but the council will be revisiting specific budget cuts aimed at making up for the $99,000 loss from the defeated wheel tax.

(A more detailed version of this story will appear in Friday’s paper.)