Wisconsin City Proposes “Transportation Utility User Charge”

NAIOP Wisconsin is opposing the City Council’s efforts in Wauwatosa to fast-track the adoption of a “transportation utility user charge” or fee to generate additional revenue for local transportation and infrastructure needs. The city cites the deferred maintenance of their aging infrastructure, fiscal infrastructure constraints set by state funding limits, and an equitable fee structure based on who uses the road for the new fee. The city council could vote to approve the new fee by the end of July.

The transportation utility fee would apply to both residential and commercial proprieties based on the vehicle traffic generated by the property’s use, and not necessarily their valuations. The city would cap the annual fee at $51.00 for single family and use a sliding scale for other properties based on national engineering standards. The city estimates the following annual fee for commercial and nonresidential properties based on their use:


The chapter is putting together an aggressive campaign to defeat the initiative, which is essentially a property tax increase, that will result in commercial property owners bearing most of the financial burden. The campaign will include coalition-building, retention of a local lobbyist, direct mail to approximately 40,000 households, and the utilization of web and social media platforms. The adoption of the transportation utility fee in Wauwatosa may lead to other cities considering similar measures for additional revenue.