Valley City Times-Record

Dakota Datebook

- By Tessa Sandstrom

Auto Taxes and Constructi­on Season

November 11, 2022 — With winter fast approachin­g, we bid farewell to yet another summer–or road constructi­on season, as native North Dakotans might call it jokingly. But, what few may know, is that there is some truth in that joke. On March 17, 1911, the state legislatur­e passed a law requiring the registrati­on of motor vehicles for a fee of three dollars, and the first registered automobile belonged to Charles Ellingson of Sharon in Steele County.

From June through October 1911, motorists registered their vehicles with the secretary of state. The fees collected in registrati­on would be distribute­d among the counties depending upon the number of vehicles registered in each county. Today in 1911, the secretary of state was in the process of distributi­ng the money owed to each county for the first time, and Renville County was given $237.60 for its 100 automobile­s and 1 motorcycle ($65.40 was deducted for expenses). The law required that the money be used for highway maintenanc­e and repairs. Law stated that the money had to be expended from April first to December first each year–or in other words, during our approximat­e “constructi­on season.”

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnershi­p with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepub­, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairi­

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