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Street Planning and Construction Information

Articled updated: 08/24/2022

Are you looking for more information on road reconstruction plans?  What improvements the city has worked on in the recent past?  What is the "Wheel Tax"?  If you’re asking those questions you've come to the right place!  The following is a list of links for specific topics this page will address:
Let's start off with the current road conditions in the City of New London.   The State of Wisconsin requires municipalities to evaluate each road in its jurisdiction every other year in what's called a Paser Rating (Pavement and Surface Evaluation Rating).  Roads are rated on a scale of 0-10 (0 being a gravel road, 10 being a new surface).  As you can see by the chart below, many roads in New London are rated at a 3, 4 or 5.  

2021 Paser Rating Graph

So yes, the city has some work to do.  But that's not to say there hasn’t been progress.  In the last 10 years, 29 different road segments have seen improvements including: 

  • 2023- State St, Lincoln St, St. John's PL, Lucas Dr, Zachary Ct, Aubrey Ct.
  • 2022-Avon St, Lyon St, Lima St 
  • 2021-Werner Allen Blvd, Shawano St
  • 2020-High St & Industrial Loop Rd Rail Road intersection, Beacon Ave Storm Sewer Outfall* Reconstruction
  • 2019-Cedar St, Northridge Dr, Algoma St Storm Sewer Outfall* Reconstruction
  • 2018-Division St, E. Jennings St & Warren St
  • 2017-Beacon Ave, Starlight Dr, Partridge Dr 
  • 2016-Wolf River Ave , Wisconsin Ave , Wyman St, Minerva St 
  • 2015-South Water St
  • 2014-Pine St, Douglas St & Ridgeway Dr
  • 2012-Orville Dr, Frederick Farm Ln, Wood Ln, Pine St, Robin St 
  • 2011-Jeanne St
*an “outfall” is a storm sewer pipe that drains into the river
Click here to see a map of these improvements.

New London has over 50 miles of road that are maintained by city staff (not including any county or state highways in the city).  Most residents do not drive on every street in the city, so depending on where you live or normally drive you may never see some of these street improvements.  But as you can see on the map there has been a fair amount of street related construction projects over the past 10 years.   

So, is road construction expensive?  Below is a snapshot of recent road reconstruction costs:
  • 2017- Beacon Ave, Starlight Dr, Partridge Dr = $407,593
  • 2018- Division St, E. Jennings St & Warren St= $1,622,140
  • 2019- Cedar St, Northridge Dr, Algoma Storm Sewer Outfall = $235,560
  • 2020-High Street & Industrial Loop Rd Rail Road intersections, Beacon Ave Storm Sewer Outfall = $165,360
  • 2021-Werner Allen Blvd, Shawano Ave =$793,019
  • 2022- Avon St, Lyon St, Lima St = $1,469,037
  • 2023- State St, Lincoln St, St. John's PL, Lucas Dr, Zachart Ct, Aubrey Ct = $443,993
As you can see, New London has made $5,136,702 in road improvements over the past 7 years.  Keep in mind these numbers only include the cost of road pavement, curb/gutter, sidewalk or storm sewer improvements.  They do not include any costs for sanitary sewer or water main improvements, which are additional expenses and financed separately with fees collected from utility bills. 

So what is limiting the city from doing more?  Construction can only be made when the city has money to finance those improvements.  The city's first source of revenue is from property taxes and funding aids from the state.  Did you know that New London has the lowest overall tax rate of any city in Waupaca County?   Compare those city tax rates here on the Waupaca County website.  It's a challenge balancing the need for many municipal services but keeping the tax rate at a low level.  Factor in the additional reality that all cities face in that the state has not provided additional funding aids at the same rate as inflation and has imposed strict levy restrictions which limits the amount a municipality can increase property taxes.  If you'd like to know more about the state's shrinking funding aids or restrictions on the tax levy, here is a great article from the Wisconsin Policy Forum which provides some history on the topic.  

Since all municipalities in the state are in the same situation, what are they doing differently than New London?  First off, many other communities charge "special assessments", charging upwards to half the cost of a project to adjacent property owners.  The City of New London only charges special assessments for private sanitary or water lateral replacements to a property.  Years ago, the city removed special assessment charges for pavement, curb/gutter, sidewalk or storm sewer improvements.  If the city would bring back assessments for these items, up to 50% more road improvements could occur, however property owners next to a project would receive a large assessment bill for those improvements.  Take for example the 2022 road projects on Avon, Lyon and Lima streets estimated at $1.7 million, those nearby property owners could be sharing half the cost up to $850,000.

Some municipalities are removing those large special assessments and instead charging what's called a "Transportation Utility Fee".  This type of charge could be added to your existing water and sewer bill to fund street improvement projects.  The philosophy behind this is that everyone in the city would share and pay a smaller charge on a regular basis, instead of a few paying a huge assessment bill for a project.   The City of New London currently does not charge a Transportation Utility Fee.

That brings up the next source of revenue that some communities are starting to charge called a "Municipal or County Vehicle Registration fee"...or more commonly known as the "Wheel Tax".  So why did the New London City Council implement the Wheel Tax?  It was in direct response to citizens commenting about road conditions and wanting more road improvements.  To finance additional road improvements the city needed to bring in additional revenue to fund those projects.  Reinstating special assessments was not an attractive choice, increasing property taxes was not an option due to tight budgets and state levy restrictions, so instead the City Council decided to try charging a $20 Wheel Tax to make additional improvements.  New London is one of 46 municipalities or counties currently charging a $10-$40 wheel tax as shown on this Wisconsin DOT website.

There have been comments on social media regarding New London's Wheel Tax.  Some have stated that the funds must be mismanaged or used for other purposes as residents are not seeing drastic street improvements.  Here's some facts on the Wheel Tax: 
The City of New London is currently collecting between $125,000 - $130,000 per year in Wheel Tax revenue.  For a comparison to see how far that goes, in 2021 the City reconstructed Shawano St between Cook St and Beacon Ave.  This project included spot repair of some curb and gutter, replacement of some old storm sewer inlets, minimal (stone) road base changes and replacement of the road surface.  This one block project cost the city $131,768.  The cost of each road improvement project can drastically vary depending on the parameters of the project; but in general, a fair statement could be that the amount of Wheel Tax raised in a year could currently fund about 1-2 blocks of road improvements

At the time New London's Wheel Tax was created, the state's statutes provided a very broad definition that wheel tax could be used for almost anything “transportation related”.  So, Wheel Tax funding could be use for things like purchasing equipment and plow trucks, salt, street labor, re-striping paint, etc.  However, when the New London Wheel tax was created the common council set expectations that the wheel tax would ONLY be used for road improvements and not general maintenance to directly address resident's concerns on road conditions.  Below are some tables showing the money raised and spent in the city's Wheel Tax account:

Year Money raised from Wheel Tax
2017 $6,572.00
2018 $145,618.00
2019 $125,166.00
2020 $127,313.00
2021 $130,441.00
2022  $129,134.00
TOTAL $657,672.00

Year Project  Cost
2019 Cedar St/Northridge Dr $223,817.00
2020 High St & Industrial Loop Rd Rail Road Intersections $123,021.00
2021 Shawano St $38,210.00
2022 Avon St, Lyon St, Lima St  $272,624.00
TOTAL   $657,672.00

As you can see, the city is expected to raise about $657,672 by the end of 2022 and 100% of those funds have been budgeted for direct road improvement projects since the Wheel Tax began in 2017.   As a point to note, Wheel Tax funding in many cases has not been the only source of revenue to pay for a project, but rather an additional source of revenue to bridge the gap to make a project happen.  For example, the Shawano St project identified above cost $131,768.  $38,210 of Wheel tax funds were used along with several other sources of revenue to complete the project.  So even though the Wheel Tax raises a modest amount of annual revenue, New London residents have benefited over $650,000 in direct street improvements over the life of the program. 

The city has been transparent on the Wheel Tax account and regular reports are provided at the city's monthly Finance and Personnel Committee meeting.  Those meetings are open to the public and reports are on the city's website.  To view those reports, click here for the Finance and Personnel Committee's Agenda page.  Find the month you'd like to view and click on "Packet" to download that full agenda packet.  On the first page you will find an agenda item labeled "Wheel Tax".  Click on that link to view the monthly wheel tax report.  You can also watch any of the recent Finance and Personnel Committee meetings archived on the city's "New London Access" YouTube Channel.

The final source of revenue for projects is from grants.  The city has been aggressive in applying for grants saving New London taxpayers $5.5 million for road improvements in recent and upcoming years!  Below is a list of those most recent grants.
  • In 2021 the city was awarded a $24,447 LRIP (Local Roads Improvement Program) grant for Shawano St
  • The city was awarded a $2.9 Million STP-Urban (Surface Transportation Program-Urban) grant for N Water St planned for construction in 2023 and 2024
  • The city received $742,309 in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds which part will be used for the Avon St, Lyon St and Lima St projects as well as some improvements planned for Lincoln Ct and St. John's St in 2023
  • New London was awarded a $2 Million LRIP grant which is planned for Oshkosh Street, anticipated to be reconstructed in 2025 
  • The city has also applied for a grant for Pearl St, which awards are anticipated to be announced in future.