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Proposals look to charge Uber, food delivery fees in Milwaukee area

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Fees for ride sharing companies and food delivery services could increase if a pair of local proposals pass. There are potential hurdles in state government to pass both.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez says Uber and Lyft are creating wear and tear on local roads, and taking people off of the public transit systems.

"There has been a dramatic increase in potholes and road repair by having more cars on the road, operating on our public roads," Ortiz-Velez said of the national trend toward ride sharing companies.

The supervisor wants to place a 50-cent per ride county tax on those rides, but Wisconsin state law generally prohibits local governments from enacting new taxes.

Milwaukee Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd, and State Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, think they have found a way around that issue. Taylor thinks charging a 60 cent "fee", as opposed to a tax, on food delivery companies like Uber Eats, would operate outside that state restriction.

"We can just go right in, and we can get what is not covered by state law, which is Uber Eats," Taylor said.

But the Milwaukee City Attorney's Office was not sold. They made the point that "fees" are generally charged for city services like garbage collection, or involve licensing, which do not appear to be involved in Dodd's initial proposal.

"There's a blend of those concepts that is not legal and enforceable," Deputy Milwaukee City Attorney Adam Stephens said. "We believe this is just a tax."

The fee would only apply to companies that use third party services to deliver. It would not charge restaurants, like pizza chains, that hire their own. Uber sent the following statement on the proposal:

“We hope the City Council will listen to restaurants and eaters before rushing through a new tax that could hurt small businesses while exempting large delivery companies.”

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