ST. CLOUD -- It could cost Stearns County residents more when they license their vehicles or when they buy merchandise in the county. Commissioners are considering options to raise additional money for county road and bridge projects.

In 2014, Stearns County began collecting a $10 "wheelage tax" to help pay for resurfacing projects.  It's the additional local tax you pay when you buy your vehicle license tabs. The county has collected an additional $1,400,000 annually through that tax. One option under consideration would be to raise that fee to $20 per year.

County Engineer Jodi Teich told commissioners another option available under state law is a half-cent transportation sales tax.  An additional half-percent would be collected on taxable items bought in Stearns County. The estimated revenue from that tax is $8,500,000-$11,500,000 per year.

Teich says the benefits of the transportation sales tax are higher revenues and it is funded from everyone who shops in Stearns County, not just county residents.

Figures show 52 Minnesota counties collect the "wheelage tax", 26 collect the transportation sales tax, 15 counties collect both taxes and 20 Minnesota counties don't collect either.

Commissioners plan to discuss the options at a future meeting.

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