Housing Package Introduced and Fast Tracked

Late last week, the Assembly introduced eight bills (described below in the recently introduced legislation section) with the goal of addressing Wisconsin's lagging housing market. While it is obvious that these bills are on the fast track in the Assembly, it is less clear what their fate will be in the Senate and where the Governor stands on these proposals. For municipalities, some of the bills have merit, but there are three specific proposals the League opposes including:

AB 605 mandates that local governments spend 10% or one million dollars, which ever is less, on a series of actives related to workforce housing, loans, streets, sewer, water low interest or no interest loans, and other elements.

AB 608 requires that any municipality that has a zoning ordinance and that furnishes water and sewer service must:
  1. provide at least one district in which multifamily housing providing not fewer than 16 residential units per acre is a permitted use and
  2. with certain limitations, permit residential use at a density of at least 16 residential units per acre in any district designated for commercial use.
A political subdivision must also establish a process for approving, denying, or conditionally approving an application for approval of a workforce housing project within 90 days of receiving the application and approve
any application for approval of a workforce housing project that is consistent with the housing element of the political subdivision's comprehensive plan or zoning ordinance unless adverse impacts on public health or safety can be demonstrated.

AB 610 prohibits assessors from the following practices when assessing the value of real property for property tax purposes:
  1. Using mortgages or bank appraisals, or any portion thereof, to determine the assessed value.
  2. Using projected rents and other future or anticipated benefits to determine fair market value.
  3. Using list and asking prices or rents to determine fair market value.
  4. Using price trends to determine fair market value in order to increase the value of multiple properties by a general amount or percentage.
  5. Considering the value of a club house, swimming pool, or other amenity that is part of a multifamily property when assessing the multifamily property if the club house receives minimal or no rental income, regardless of whether the club house is located on a separate lot.
The bill also provides that when there is an inconsistency or ambiguity between the Wisconsin Property Assessment Manual and a statute, the statute controls the practices of the assessor. 

The League is opposed to both of these provisions due to the attempt to limit local control and we will appear to testify at the public hearing on Tuesday.

ARPA Revenue Loss Calculator

With the Office of Recovery Programs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently announcing the extension for reporting deadlines that were originally required to be submitted on October 31st to January 31st for metropolitan cities, counties, states and territories and April 30th for NEUs (cities and villages under 50,000 in population), the League, Town's Association and the Department of Revenue have launched a new revenue loss calculation tool. See the press release announcing the partnership and calculator here under the tool.

Additional State Grants Open

Equitable Recovery Grant Program - Applications Just Launched!
The Equitable Recovery Grant Program will provide $50 million to assist community-based organizations working to increase equity and eliminating disparities, by providing services and programming to Wisconsin residents disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grants up to $1,000,000 will be provided per eligible nonprofit organization.     

Applications are open through November 5, 2021 and will be evaluated in two separate award allocations:
  • $25 million for health, early childhood, education
  • $25 million for economic support, housing, environmental justice
Interested organizations can find additional information for the Equitable Recovery Grant Program available here.

Tourism Capital Grant Program - Applications Just Launched!
The Tourism Capital Grant Program will provide up to $10 million for local and Tribal governments and tourism-related nonprofits to invest in shovel-ready tourism-related capital projects.
Grants of up to $3.5 million will be awarded through a competitive application process. The grant application will be administered by DOA and will remain open through November 12, 2021.

Eligibility criteria and grant application materials for the Tourism Capital Grant Program, as well as information about an upcoming program webinar and Q&A submissions, are available on the program website.

There are several other grant programs available to local communities to aid in the recovery from the pandemic including: