Posts Tagged ‘Taxes’

Tommy’s Little Choo-Choo

March 14, 2009

Congratulations to the urbanists, the downtowners and the anti-car crowd. Mayor Tom Barrett’s end-around the County has given him the win he was looking for and he’s now got half of the money he needs to build his little streetcar project. What Barrett and the urbanists don’t realize is that the removal of street parking along the route will be even more reason to keep those of us who’ve been fighting against this cute but expensive little choo-choo out of downtown. I’m starting to think that was the goal all along, to drive “car people” out of the city and into the outskirts. What do those guys call the freedom to drive again? Oh yeah, “sprawl” pronounced with a condescending snarl.

So there’s now no doubt that we’re getting Tommy’s silly little train but there is a very serious question about where the REST of the money will come from. The city has been given ~$55M right? Barrett’s numbers had construction of the streetcars at $100M, which is actually a slightly conservative number when you take a look at the average cost per mile for similar systems of $35M/mi. So where is the rest of the money going to come from? Then once it is built where will the operating funding come from? Milwaukee County is estimating that the state will be taking ~$3M of annual funding away from the bus system to help run the streetcars. Does anyone believe that this system can be run on $3M per year? What about the bus system? Everyone acknowledges that it needs more funding and yet this streetcar system will be draining a hefty chunk away from it. That’ll be $3M spent on a 2.8 mile circuit downtown instead of on the bus system that serves the entire county.

Here’s what I predict. Tom Barrett will push for the RTA to take over the streetcars. The RTA will push for a new tax on the entire region which it will use to pay for this system that benefits only the select few urbanists in downtown who will use it. Milwaukee County will push for a new county sales tax (which the county board is already working on) to fill in the holes left in the bus system’s budget. The City of Milwaukee will push for new parking surcharges in the downtown area (something Barrett has already announced as his plan to help pay for the streetcars). The net effect is that the “car people” who will no longer come downtown unless they are required to will pay for the entire system that they will not use. They’ll pay for it in sales tax on every single thing that they buy and they’ll pay for it in extra parking fees when they do have to go downtown. Way to stick it to us.

Vote NO on Nov. 4th! Don’t be fooled!

November 3, 2008

Milwaukee County voters on Tuesday, Nov. 4th, will vote on this non-binding referendum:

“Shall the State of Wisconsin grant Milwaukee County the authority to provide property tax relief of at least sixty-seven million dollars ($67 million) by levying a one percent county use and sales tax to be used to remove the following three items from the property tax levy: parks, recreation and culture; transit; and emergency medical services (EMS)?”

I’ve created a Facebook Group to try to rally people together here in Milwaukee County against the County Board’s sales tax increase plan.

Click here to go to the Facebook Group: Vote NO on Nov. 4th – Don’t be fooled!

The Milwaukee County Board has placed a very misleading referendum question on the ballot for this Nov. 4th. They want to TRIPLE the county’s sales tax from .5% to 1.5%. This increase will amount to an additional $130 million of sales tax on goods and services sold in Milwaukee County each year (by the county’s estimates).

The referendum question implies that we will see property tax relief from this sales tax increase. Notice however that they state right in the question that they’re only planning on a property tax levy reduction of half of the amount of the new sales tax. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that we will see ANY property tax reduction at all as the County Board can always change their mind at any time.

The current .5% county sales tax was passed in 1991 with a similar promise of property tax relief but from 1992 to 2007 the property tax levy was increased by almost 71%! That’s more than $100 million per year in additional property taxes. What happened to the relief we were promised in the 90’s? There’s no reason not to expect the same thing to happen again if the County Board gets their way this time.

Vote NO on the Milwaukee County Sales Tax Referendum!