Hennepin County won't be imposing a wheelage tax on vehicle owners to help pay for the Lowry Avenue Bridge in northeast Minneapolis.

The County Board, on a 5-2 vote Thursday, rejected a proposal by Commissioner Peter McLaughlin to charge $5 per vehicle to pay down the bridge's debt for the next 24 years.

The tax would have generated about $4 million each year, largely replacing property tax dollars to finance the project.

McLaughlin argued that the wheelage tax was a way to ease the property tax burden with a user-based fee that's tied to transportation.

Commissioner Gail Dorfman agreed, saying that it's an untapped revenue source that doesn't ask a lot of taxpayers. Five other metro-area counties have wheelage taxes.

Other commissioners said the tax was not needed, could complicate future state and federal funding and posed an undue burden on poorer residents.

"I don't support taxes or fees where the poor pay more, and in this particular case they clearly do," Board Chairman Mike Opat said.

The cost of the Lowry Bridge, slated to be finished next summer, is $92.7 million. The county's share is $51.7 million and the state is paying $37.5 million. The balance is coming from Minneapolis, the federal government and Xcel Energy.