League Bill on Property Tax Refunds Receives Hearing
Last week, the Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate held a public hearing on AB 399, a bill the League worked with Rep. Brooks (R-Saukville) and Sen. Petrowski (R-Marathon) to introduce. The bill cleans up two inconsistencies in the statues dealing with the interest paid on property tax refunds. City of Wauwatosa Assessor Shannon Krause testified in favor of the bill with the League.

The bill updates the method by which interest is calculated in the section of the statutes related to unlawful recovery of taxes to mirror the method utilized in the statute for challenging over assessments of property.

The bill also requires all taxing jurisdictions, including the county and the school district, to contribute to the cost of interest paid on property tax refunds. Under current law, all local taxing jurisdictions contribute proportionately to the cost of the tax refund, but only the city, village, or town pays the interest on the refund. This bill allows the city, village, or town, to collect its proportionate share of the interest paid on property tax refunds from each underlying taxing jurisdiction. 

Read the League's Testimony Here.

League Webinar to Highlight Police Funding Challenges

State Limits Shrink Police Departments

One in three Wisconsin police departments had to reduce the number of sworn officers in 2019, as the one-two punch of levy limits and shrinking state support hammers local budgets. New research from the Wisconsin Policy Forum illustrates in sharp detail how communities across the state are struggling to maintain their police departments in the face of budgets that get tighter every year.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum looked at data comparing police budgets in 2018 and 2019 (the most recent data available). The data showed that both police and fire department budgets in roughly one-third of Wisconsin’s local governments shrank from one year to the next. The phenomenon occurred in all size communities throughout Wisconsin. First responders are feeling the pinch.

What’s a city or village to do? The League is hosting a special webinar for members, state policymakers and the media on Friday, September 17, to talk about that difficult question. Please join us for this important event. There is no charge and pre-registration is not required. Stay tuned for further details.

  • 12:00 Welcome and introduction by League Executive Director Jerry Deschane
  • 12:05 Wisconsin Policy Forum reviews its findings and their implications for the future.
  • 12:35 A panel of local leaders discusses strategies for coping with these statewide budget challenges.
  • 1:00 Adjourn.

 State Sponsored ARPA Grants - Comprehensive Summary

As the League has emphasized, a best practice with ARPA funding is to make the federal dollars stretch as far as possible. Municipalities should look for additional grants that can complement local initiatives. With that goal in mind, we highlight below several state grant opportunities with open application periods or those that will have open applications soon so that you can begin to plan and take advantage of these programs.

The Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) Grant Program will provide financial support for organizations that promote and develop tourism activities in Wisconsin. A total of $15 million is available, up to $1,000,000 per eligible organization, based on expenses incurred between March 3, 2021 and December 31, 2022. Grant funds are available as part of the American Rescue Plan Act and will be distributed by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). Applications for the program are open now through September 29, 2021.
Additional information about the DMO Grant Program is available here: https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/DestinationMarketingOrganizationsGrantProgram.aspx

The Main Street Bounceback Grants Program provides $10,000 to new or existing businesses and non-profit organizations moving into vacant properties in Wisconsin’s downtowns and commercial corridors. The program is open to new or existing businesses opening a new location or expanding operations in a vacant commercial space as of January 1, 2021. Grant funds are available as part of the American Recovery Plan Act and will be distributed by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) regional partners. Businesses must apply through the partner organization for the region in which they are located. Applications are open through June 30, 2022. 

The Neighborhood Investment Fund Grant Program is a $200 million initiative aimed at local and tribal governments will be eligible to help their communities deliver innovative public services, including new or improved facilities. Governments could pursue new projects like workforce and entrepreneur innovation centers, affordable housing initiatives, transit and childcare solutions, or public space development, with a particular emphasis on increasing services for underserved individuals and populations. The program is funded by state portion of the federal American Rescue Plan Act and will be administered by the Department of Administration (DOA). Additional program and application information coming soon.

The Healthcare Infrastructure Capital Investment Grants will provide $50 million in funding to local and tribal governments or non-profit healthcare organizations to invest in capital projects that specifically support increasing access to healthcare for low income, uninsured, and underserved communities and the ability to respond to future pandemics response needs. Projects could include new or upgraded facility space that enables additional capacity for care within a community. The program is funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act and will be administered by the Department of Administration (DOA). Additional program and application information coming soon.