Keeping Houston County citizens informed

Justin Zmyewski
Houston County Commissioner 

On a 4 to 1 vote the Houston County Board of Commissioners elected to implement a Wheelage Tax in the county. This means that when you renew your license plate tabs each year there will be an additional charge of $10. The revenue generated from this tax is to be used for “highway purposes.”

Houston County has approximately 19,800 vehicle registrations subject to a Wheelage Tax. The approximate revenue from this Wheelage Tax is $198,000 yearly. The county board of commissioners has the option to double this tax in 2018.

I was the lone vote against this tax. In the past eight years county taxes have gone up an average of nearly 10 percent a year. We as constituents of the county keep shouldering the burden of additional taxes as levied by the board of commissioners and that which has been shifted onto the county taxpayers from the State of Minnesota. My vote against the Wheelage Tax was an attempt to control what seems to be an ongoing spend-and-tax way of doing business at the county level. An 80 percent tax increase in eight years would be the evidence.

To some a $10 tax may not seem like much and that maybe so, but for me it is the idea that once again the constituents are called upon to “pony up” and shoulder the burden rather than the county “drilling down” in a search of better management practices with the dollars we do have.

During the hearing of the Wheelage Tax I was taken back by comments like “this isn’t a property tax,” “at least it isn’t a tractor tax” and “this is the cost of doing business in Houston County.”

No, it isn’t a property tax, I believe it would be categorized as a hidden tax built into the cost of goods and services. I don’t even know how to respond to the comment “at least it is not a tractor tax.” Is spending and taxing “the cost of doing business in Houston County?”

This year the state is limiting the counties to a ceiling of a 3 percent tax levy. I am opposed to any tax increase. A new county highway shop at the cost of several million dollars is in the discussion stages. One commissioner has stated publicly that she was not opposed to going to the taxpayers to cover the cost of a new multi-million dollar county shop. As a taxpayer I am deeply concerned. As a commissioner I will vote against the above mentioned.

Minnesotans are on course to pay $2.1 billion in new state taxes – at the county level I am trying to stop what could become a runaway county tax train.

If you disagree with my stance and votes against tax increases please let me know and by all means let the other commissioners know that you do appreciate their votes to increase taxes.


Justin Zmyewski is the District 2 Houston County Commissioner.