League of Wisconsin Municipalities
  Capitol Buzz 
November 10, 2016
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter  
Post Election Analysis -- Steady as she Goes for Municipalities  
On Tuesday, the Republicans added one more seat to their huge majority in the Assembly and also enlarged their majority in the Senate by one. T he GOP will hold a 20-13 advantage in the Senate and a 64-35 majority in the Assembly. 

How will the election impact the League's agenda in the State Capitol? For the most part, there won't be major changes. Our agenda was drafted with a Republican majority in mind. And, more importantly, our core principles of strengthening l ocal democracy and pres erving local revenue sources remain the same regardless of partisan changes within the Legislature.  

Regarding preserving local revenue sources, given the strong performance by the GOP on Tuesday, t here could be a stronger push to eliminate the personal property tax on businesses. Republicans will feel validated and will want to act more boldly on this issue. We will steadfastly resist any efforts to repeal the personal property tax that do not include state payments or some other method to avoid tax shifting to residential properties.  

The dynamics surrounding transportation funding remain unchanged. We anticipate the Governor will introduce a budget containing significant increases in general transportation aids, but offer no revenue increases to address the transportation funding shortfall.  The Assembly Republicans meanwhile remain committed to exploring additional revenue options for the transportation fund.  

All of the League's municipal legislative champions and strong supporters from last session were re-elected and we look forward to working with them again this session.  We are pleased to be partnering with Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) on the dark store and Walgreens property tax assessment issues.  Both legislators are committed to introducing legislation addressing these issue on our behalf next session.
Results of Municipal Referendum Questions  

Referendums to exceed levy limits. On Tuesday, four municipalities asked voters to grant permission to exceed levy limits. Voters gave their approval in three of the four communities. We are still awaiting results from one small village.  Details are provided below:

City of Kewaunee voters approved exceeding levy limits by  16.76 percent ($175,000) on an ongoing basis.  (The city's allowable increase based on net new construction was 0.78%.)

Village of Lake Hallie voters approved exceeding levy limits by $85,000 on an ongoing basis to fund a new detective position for the police department. (The village's allowable increase based on net new construction was 3.17%).

Village of Downing, population 264, voters approved exceeding levy limits by  145.51 percent on an ongoing basis. (The village's allowable increase based on net new construction was 0.792%). Under the approved increase the total levy is $33,745.

The Village of Bowler, population 292, asked voters to approve exceeding levy limits by 145% on an ongoing basis.  (The village's allowable increase based on net new construction was 0.5 percent). An 145% increase would make the total levy $23,940. We are still awaiting the results of this referendum.

Other municipal ballot measures. 
  • Wausau voters rejected a proposed $20 local vehicle registration fee.  63 percent voted against the measure. Wausau has a charter ordinance requiring it to submit all new fees affecting more than 10 percent of residents to a referendum vote.
  • Watertown voters approved an advisory referendum on whether to renovate the library at a total cost not to exceed $7,300,000, with the City providing up to 60% ($4,385,000) of the cost. 
  • Burlington voters approved an advisory referendum to construct a community pool the cost of which is not to exceed $5.4 million.
  • City of Superior voters approved a referendum in support of the state Legislature passing legislation authorizing a Local Exposition District Tax on lodging, food and beverage consumed at local establishments and car rentals for the purpose of acquiring and managing exposition center facilities and other development related to the Better City Superior Plan.
  • City of Middleton voters approved two referenda relating to climate change. The first supports the city reducing the risks of global warming through its policy decisions and actions.  The second calls on the city to endorse a federal carbon fee and dividend program as part of a national strategy to reduce risks of global warming.
  • Voters in over a dozen communities passed referendums in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Citizen's United decision and allowing the regulation of political contributions and political spending by corporations.