Transportation Funding 

Alternatives to Funding Local Transportation Needs

Municipalities Have Authority to Create Transportation Utilities

On June 16, 2020 the League issued a legal opinion concluding that a municipality may rely on its broad statutory and/or constitutional home rule powers to create a transportation utility and charge property owners transportation utility fees. Alternatively, a municipality may charge property owners a street maintenance user fee under Wis. Stat. § 66.0627. Any fee must be reasonably related to the cost of the services provided. A transportation utility fee is most defensible against challenge if the basis for the fee is closely related to property occupants’ use of the local street network. Transportation utility fees with such a basis are accurately characterized as fees and not taxes. Such fees should be segregated and used only for street maintenance and other transportation services. To avoid needing to reduce the community’s property tax levy under § 66.0602(2m)(b) of the levy limit law, municipalities should avoid using transportation utility fee revenue to pay for snow plowing or street sweeping.

Clintonville Road Maintenance and Transportation Utility Fee (PDF) by Andrew Eveland, November 2019
This paper presents a new method of transportation infrastructure revenue generation for the City of Clintonville, Wisconsin in the form of a Transportation Utility Fee (TUF). A TUF is a relatively rare revenue generation policy that treats city roads as a utility and charges for its use. The TUF is assessed against properties based on the estimated use of the utility generated by those properties.

A Trip-Based Transportation User Charge System Case Study (PDF) by Jeff Mazanec, PE, RA Smith National, Inc., August, 2012 

State Infrastructure Bank Program - a low interest revolving loan fund for transportation projects
"In order to stretch limited funds, Congress authorized some innovative uses of federal transportation funds. Funds were authorized to create state "banks" to complement traditional transportation grant programs and provide states with flexibility to offer many types of financial assistance. The State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) Program, similar to a private bank, offers a range of loans and credit options to help finance eligible surface transportation projects. SIBs offer states the ability to undertake transportation projects that would otherwise go unfunded or experience substantial delays." To learn more, visit the DOT website.