Wheel Tax

Pennington County Wheel Tax

Ordinance 737 - $5.00 per wheel / $60.00 maximum per vehicle - Approved by the Board of Commissioners on August 2, 2022

Counties in South Dakota are required by the State Legislature to adopt a wheel tax in order to be eligible to receive funding from the State’s Local Bridge Improvement Grant (BIG) Fund for the construction, reconstruction and repair of bridges. SDCL  32-5A-1 allows up to a $5/wheel rate with a maximum of $60/vehicle. BIG Grants are awarded based upon a points system. Counties with $5/wheel tax rate get a full 10 points. 

Between 2015 – 2020 Pennington County had a direct loss in bridge funding opportunities from the State for not having a wheel tax. Taxpayers contribute daily to the BIG Fund through motor fuel taxes, ethyl alcohol taxes, motor vehicle excise taxes and license plate fees. 

The $2.00 wheel tax revenue has never been sufficient to support Pennington County’s road and bridge work needs. Inflation, material and fuel costs have increased construction costs significantly, reducing the amount of work that can be done in a year with current funding sources. The average cost of bridge replacements has increased approximately $250,000 since 2020. With 89 bridges needing replacement over the course of the next 25 years, Pennington County will need to begin budgeting approximately $3,570,000 annually in 2022 dollars for that purpose.

Since implementing the wheel tax in 2021, Pennington County has successfully been awarded 3 bridge replacement grants and 4 bridge preservation grants in the amount of $2,088,500.