Available Files

What if my vehicle isn’t stored in Marathon County?

If you have a vehicle that isn’t stored in Marathon County but is registered as such, you need to contact the Wisconsin DMV to correct that information. See s. 341.335, Wis. Stats.

Why do we need this fee?

We want Marathon County to be a preferred place to live, work, visit, and do business. Quality roadways are absolutely integral to that mission. Unfortunately, the reality is that our roads need work and the resources for us to do that work are dwindling.

Needs in Marathon County


Currently, 277 of our 611 county highway miles fall below our standard of a 7 out of 10 rating. That’s almost half.


Currently, 19 of our 110 bridges have a sufficiency rating below our goal of 50 out of 100. Three of those bridges rate “functionally obsolete”, according to federal standards. For a very quick summary, a functionally obsolete bridge is defined as “basically intolerable” in at least one of the following areas:

  • Roadway width
  • Vertical clearance
  • Vertical/horizontal clearance for the road underneath (unless the bridge is over a waterway)
  • Alignment with the rest of the highway
  • Structural evaluation
  • Waterway adequacy (the tendency of water to overtop, or flow over, the bridge during flooding)

Functional obsolescence does not mean that a bridge is unsafe or falling apart—just that it isn’t meeting the needs of the traffic driving on and under it.

Costs Have Increased

Material Costs per Ton for Marathon County
  • Salt
    • 2013–14: $66.99
    • 2014–15: $78.49
    • 2015–16: $79.34
  • Asphalt
    • 2005: $20.40
    • 2015: $47.76
      • In the average year, the Marathon County Highway Department paves 95,000 tons of asphalt. This comes out to $4.5 million in 2015—an increase of $2.6 million over ten years.
Overall Cost to Pave a Road
  • 1993 (last time federal gas tax was raised): ≈$75,000 per mile
  • 2006 (last time state gas tax was raised): ≈$85,000 per mile
  • 2015: ≈$208,000 per mile

Contributions from the Federal and State Governments Are Not Keeping Pace

Federal Funding

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015, makes clear there is not going to be any large influx of federal funds for at least the next six years. Additionally, highways compete with aviation, Amtrak, ports, harbors, waterways, etc. for federal transportation funding.

State Funding

State funding doesn’t appear to be increasing as necessary either. The state fiscal bureau reports that a 29.29%–64.65% yearly road funding increase is needed, but early reports are that there will be little or no increase in state aids. Gas tax indexing has been ruled out by state officials. At the same time, the government has increased weight limits for timber and ag industries, which increases damage to the roadways. Surrounding states have increased registration fees and other revenues to meet these demands—we can’t let the driving force of our economy fall into disrepair.

State Monthly Registration and Motor Fuel Tax Expenses
Illinois $39
Iowa $41
Michigan $28
Minnesota $42
Wisconsin $23

Who is going to have to pay and how much is it?

What types of vehicles are subject to the fee?

Automobiles and motor trucks registered under 8,000 lbs. gross weight and customarily kept in Marathon County are subject to this fee (s. 341.35(1), Wis. Stats.).

How much is it?

The cost is $25 per registered vehicle, not per wheel. With 117,000 vehicles in Marathon County, this is expected to generate approximately $2.9 million.

Which vehicles are exempt?

State law limits which vehicles Marathon County can charge this fee on (s. 341.35(2), Wis. Stats.). You should be aware that large trucks often pay their own very high fees, though. For example, the average dump truck pays $1,900–$2,000 in fees, plus the cost of the fuel tax. The average logging truck pays about $2,400–$2,500 in registration, user fees, and fuel tax. With that said, the following types of vehicle are exempt:

  • Buses, motorcycles, mopeds, motor homes, low-speed vehicles, and trailers
  • Trucks registered at more than 8,000 pounds or registered as farm or dual purpose farm
  • Vehicles registered as antique, collector, driver education, historic military vehicle, hobbyist, human service vehicle, low-speed vehicle, Medal of Honor, municipal, state-owned, special X and one vehicle with ex-prisoner of war registration issued to any qualified individual
  • Any vehicle with registration issued by a Wisconsin Indian tribe or band
  • Vehicles displaying dealer, distributor, finance company or manufacturer plates

When am I going to have to pay?

The fee is collected by the state during the registration process, so whenever you have to renew a registration or register a new vehicle, the fee will be included (s. 341.35(5), Wis. Stats.).

What is the money going to be used for?

The county wheel tax is going solely toward fixing roadways and bridges that are the county’s obligation to fix. State highways are the state’s obligation to maintain, and municipalities (towns, villages, and cities) are obligated to maintain the roadways under their control. The county cannot exempt specific municipalities from the tax, nor can it allocate specific revenues from the fee to specific municipalities.

What is the money really going to be used for?

The money must be used for a transportation purpose; it cannot and will not be used to pay other types of bills. It’s the law! Take a look at s. 341.35(6r), Wis. Stats.

If I have questions about government funding for roadway maintenance, who should I call?

Your Government Representatives (as of August 2017)


Where can I find more information?