General Transportation Aids (GTA) - Frequently Asked Questions

The State of Wisconsin provides the General Transportation Aids (GTA) program for local governments to receive aid payments to defray part of the costs incurred in road construction, maintenance, and traffic operations, as set forth in Wisconsin Statutes s.86.30.

Funding for GTA comes from State Transportation Fund revenues, primarily motor fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.

Each year the State of Wisconsin allocates GTA to all local governments using two funding statutory distributions- one for counties and the other for municipalities. The sum of all payments to either counties or municipalities must equal the respective statutory distribution.

Payment to each municipality is determined based on five calculation steps:

  1. Calculation of Share of Costs (SOC) and Rate per Mile (RPM) amounts.
  2. Selection of either SOC or RPM amount, whichever is greater.
  3. Appropriate Minimum and Maximum Cushions to ensure payment is within statutory boundaries.
  4. Application of Cost Cap (aid limitation based on reported costs) to ensure payment is not more than 85% of a municipality’s 3-year average costs.
  5. Filing penalty, if applicable.

Major payment calculation steps for counties include: Step 1 (where only the SOC value is calculated), Step 3 and Step 5.

The State of Wisconsin distributes GTA funds to all Wisconsin counties, cities, villages and towns in amounts determined using a formula based on local eligible costs. The program is cost-driven in that GTA payments are based upon a six-year average of eligible costs that come from the Financial Report Form that each local government submits to the Department of Revenue (DOR) on an annual basis.

In general, road or street construction and maintenance expenditures within the right-of-way are eligible expenditures. A percentage of other expenditures are also eligible, including law enforcement, street lighting maintenance and construction, and storm sewer construction.

However, all revenues a local government receives for road maintenance, construction, law enforcement, street lighting, sidewalk replacement, storm sewer services, or sales of equipment or property are considered deductible revenues. To determine eligible costs, all deductible revenues are subtracted from eligible expenditures.

How a local government reports its expenditures and revenues to DOR has a direct impact on its future GTA payments. The Cost Reporting Manual provides guidance in identifying eligible expenditures and deductible revenues used for GTA calculation, and the appropriate line codes on which to report them on DOR Financial Report Form.

To determine the six-year average, we add the latest six years of annual cost data and then divide them by six.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) obtains cost data from the Financial Report Form that all local units of government must file annually with DOR. The reports are based upon calendar year expenditures and revenues and are submitted each spring.

Local governments must file their Financial Report with DOR on or before the due date as stated in s. 86.303(5), Wis. Stats.:

  • March 31: Submittal deadline for municipalities with a population less than 2,500.
  • May 1: Submittal deadline for counties and municipalities with a population greater than 2,500.
  • May 15: Extended deadline for all counties and municipalities. DOR automatically grants this extension to all municipalities and counties.
  • July 31: Submittal deadline for municipalities and counties having a population of 25,000 or more to submit their audit opinion on the Municipal Financial Report and an audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Form (CAFR).

GTA amount payable to a county or municipality shall be reduced for each working day that the Financial Report Form is late, to a maximum reduction of 10 percent and subject to s. 86.303, Wis. Stats. Local governments must file their completed report forms electronically on DOR website.

Minimum and maximum adjustment help ensure that there is not more than a 10% reduction and also not more than a 15% increase in GTA for local governments when compared to the previous year. The 15% maximum applies to counties and municipalities receiving payments under the share of costs (SOC) provision; it does not apply to municipalities under the rate per mile (RPM) provision. Counties are not eligible for the RPM provision.

A municipality may not receive GTA payments greater than 85% of its three-year average costs, per Section 86.30(2)(d), Wis. Stats. This 85% cost cap is determined by multiplying the local government's most recent three-year average costs by 85%. This provision overrides all other provisions of the formula. If the amount exceeds the 85% level, a reduction is made to equal the 85% amount.

GTA payments to local governments are computed and paid on a calendar year basis. Municipalities receive quarterly payments on the first Monday of January, April, July and October. Counties receive payments on the first Monday of January (25%), July (50%) and October (25%). If the date falls on a legal holiday, the aids are paid the subsequent business day.

The option available for receiving GTA payments is an electronic transfer to your financial institution or Investment Pool Account. Paper check is also an option but it is not recommended. (It takes longer to process and to arrive at your financial institution).

To select or modify the payment option that best suits the needs of your local government, please contact DOR at LGS@wisconsin.gov or (608) 266-2569.

Each local government is required to electronically submit its Financial Report Form, which includes highway-related cost information, to DOR before the due date.

Every local government shall file with WisDOT no later than December 15 of every year, a certified plat of the municipality or county showing the highways under its jurisdiction and the mileage thereof to be open and used for travel as of the succeeding January 1. Where applicable, WisDOT may use the plats in making computations of transportation aids. In lieu of filing a certified plat, if a municipality or county has not added or deleted jurisdictional mileage since filing its last preceding certified plat, its board or governing body may file a certified statement to that effect with the department.

To correct current reporting year:

Any municipality having a population of 2,500 or less which has submitted its financial report form may amend it prior to March 31 or prior to May 15 if a written request for extension has been received by the department of revenue. Any county or any municipality having a population over 2,500 which has submitted its financial report form may amend it prior to May 1 or prior to May 15 if a written request for extension has been received by the department of revenue. Any amendments shall be submitted to the department of revenue. Any county or municipality which desires to amend its financial report form after May 15 shall submit an independent, certified audit to the department of revenue no later than August 15.

To correct past reporting years:

Any county or municipality that desires to amend past-year cost reports shall submit an independent, certified audit to the department. Any county or municipality that desires to amend past-year financial report forms shall submit amendments to the department of revenue.

To meet the statutory requirement, the local government will have to contract with a CPA firm to conduct an audit of the town’s basic financial statements for past years and also issue an audit opinion on the town’s Financial Report Form as supplementary information to basic financial statements. The auditor’s opinions required with the corrected report are similar to those required for original report filings by municipalities with populations over 25,000. You must submit the audit to WisDOT and the corrected Financial Report Form to DOR.

For questions regarding the audit required for correction of prior year’s costs, contact WisDOT’s Chief of Audit and Contract Administration at (608) 266-1824.

If you have further questions regarding the Financial Report Form, you may contact DOR at LGS@wisconsin.gov or (608) 266-8207.

Please direct questions regarding GTA to:

Tim Olusegun
Program Manager, General Transportation Aids
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Phone:  (608) 266-0254
Email:  tim.olusegun@dot.wi.gov