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What is TARF? And how would its increase affect property owners in Neenah?

Neenah finance committee meeting
Posted at 10:04 PM, Oct 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-23 23:04:29-04
  • TARF is a Transportation Assessment Replacement Fee that Neenah uses to generate money for projects like road and sidewalk reconstruction.
  • A proposal to double it is now headed to Common Council.
  • TARF is generated per IAU (Impervious Area Unit), which is just over 3,000 square feet. So, businesses will be more impacted by this change than residential property owners.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

I’m your Neenah Neighborhood Reporter Darby McCarthy, with a look at what “TARF” is, and how a plan to increase it could double what property owners here are already paying quarterly.

You may have heard of a “wheel tax,” which is a fee you pay for registering a vehicle in a certain area.

In many places, a wheel tax will pay for local transportation costs.

But in the City of Neenah, a Transportation Assessment Replacement Fee — or TARF — comes from a different measurement called an IAU, which stands for Impervious Area Unit.

Neenah’s Director of Public Works Gerry Kaiser says that all residential properties are charged at just one IAU, so a proposed increase to TARF won't affect homeowners as much as people who own large businesses.

But even for businesses with a lot of square footage, there is an IAU cap of 90.

The City of Neenah’s mayor and Council decided to use IAU to decide how much each property owner should contribute to the TARF.

“The wheel tax doesn’t impact large vehicles, and those are actually the vehicles that do the most damage on the streets, so it seemed a little counter-intuitive to leave them out of the mix. With TARF, we capture all of those users that are on our roadways.”

On Monday evening, a resolution to increase Neenah’s TARF per IAU was presented to the [city's finance] committee, and it passed.

But from now on, the TARF will be reviewed annually instead of every five years. And there was an exemption added for the people who’ve already paid the TARF for this year.

According to Kaiser, the costs of labor and materials for construction have been higher since 2020, and Neenah has seen more street construction in that time.

"When we started the program, one of the goals was to get more street work done. Certainly one of the common complaints we hear is the condition of streets, so this was a program that was used to try and accelerate some the street work that we need to have done."

Next, this proposal will go before the city’s Common Council for a vote.