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'They don't want this tax:' MKE Co. Supervisor voices concerns over ride-sharing tax proposal

Posted at 5:08 PM, Nov 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-19 18:56:38-05

MILWAUKEE — A plan to tax your Uber and Lyft rides to help solve the Milwaukee County's budget troubles has hit a road block.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Dan Sebring drives for Lyft in Milwaukee. He doesn't think his customers should be on the hook for an additional 50 to 60 cent fee per ride.

"I can tell you for a fact that I believe I speak for a majority of Uber and Lyft drivers that they don't want this tax," Sebring said.

Custom Lyft license plate and all, Sebring uses the ride-sharing app to make some extra cash on weekends. He worries Lyft and Uber customers will choose other options if Milwaukee County is able to implement a special tax.

"The whole proposal is premised on the notion that Uber and Lyft are responsible for reduction in bus ridership and therefore a reduction in revenues," Sebring said. "I think this is an attempt to punish people for not riding the bus."

Milwaukee County Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz Velez came up with the idea after noticing how more than a dozen other cities and states implemented a similar fee. She argues Lyft and Uber rides are causing more wear and tear on the roads while cutting into M.C.T.S. ridership.

"Not only are they not paying their fair share, but we're actually having to pay more out of our own operating pocket to cover their cost," she said.

Ortiz-Velez believes Milwaukee County could net an additional $20 million a year if this legislative draft in the works by democrats in the state legislature becomes law.

"Other industries have fees, other industries that use the roads commercially. For example, truck drivers, taxicab drivers, I can go on and on," Ortiz-Velez said.

Under the current proposal, 55-percent of the revenue would go toward the Milwaukee County Transit System to restore routes. The other 45-percent would be dispursed to cities and municipalities across the county for road repairs and public safety. Sebring urges Ortiz-Velez to look for money elsewhere.

"That is the very definition of fascism so I can't sit still and let that go," he said.

TODAY'S TMJ4 reached out to Uber and Lyft for a comment on this proposal, but neither have gotten back to us.