Even Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos admits the state revenue sharing with local governments is broken despite having his fingerprints all over the current levels. And led by Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, a number of Wisconsin mayors have banded together to work with the Assembly to get something done. There’s another story there…but from my own experience…those disgusting big blue cities aren’t the only ones suffering.
For the past six months I have been working as the executor of my sister’s estate. And she had a number of real estate parcels outside of cities and this is what I have found.
She owned an empty lot in a small village in Waukesha County. Her intention was to build a ranch home of some sort in retirement as her knees were starting to show their age. That didn’t come to fruition so the lot is still in her estate. So I am paying the bills and one of the recurring bills of course, is for village utilities. One of the line items is for transportation. The first time I got this, I just paid it. The second one came a week or so ago so I got curious about the item and contacted the village clerk. Well because state revenue sharing isn’t keeping up with the cost of doing government business, the village adds a charge of transportation to their utility bills. A common dodge to move such costs from the property tax levy to the property owners nonetheless. The fee varies depending on the type and size of lot. An empty standard lot is the least…while commercial lots are charged based on size and projected traffic volume. hmm.
Her other property is a vacation place in Langlade County. I just received a letter from the county stating that in 2023 they will begin charging local property owners $50 per year for 5 years for use of county roads along their property that aren’t at least partly provided for from Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation funds. They sent a questionnaire along with the letter…not sure what they are collecting. And I am not sure if this will be a separate fee or a tax bill add on. hmmm.
Now neither Langlade or Waukesha Counties are blue counties. As a matter of fact they have reputations as red strongholds (although Waukesha has trended purple in the last two elections).
So I am thinking that revenue sharing issues are a statewide issue at this point and Vos needs to do something if he’s going to avoid a voter rebellion from even his own ranks. And although Mayor Johnson is rightly rounding up other big city mayors, he may also be well served to build a coalition with smaller municipalities who may be feeling the same fiscal pain.