September 25, 2017          No. 36

2017-18, No. 36
September 25, 2017

In this Issue:

State Budget -- What's in and What's out?

In the News

Recently Introduced Legislation

Public Hearings
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
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State budget --What's in and What's out

Last week, Governor Walker signed the state budget bill into law as Act 59. Act 59 took effect on September 23, unless a different effective date is specified for a particular provision.

Read the Governor's full veto message here

What's not in the state budget Act?  
  • Full repeal of the personal property tax. (However, a partial repeal was included in the budget by exempting a chunk of personal property from the tax. Essentially, the Legislature took the first step towards incrementally repealing the personal property tax over several budgets. For more information, see the first item in the list below.)
  • Making a local vehicle registration fee (wheel tax) conditioned on voter approval in a referendum. (Never added to the budget, though such an amendment was seriously promoted by legislators.)   
  • Language codifying case law standards for determining when a local ordinance conflicts with state law. (Line-item vetoed.
  • Limits on local regulation of quarry operations. (Line-item vetoed.)
  • New process for locating a  place of residence for recently released violent sex offenders under ch. 980. (Line-item vetoed.) 
  • Allowing municipalities to publish legal notices on the community's web site in lieu of paying for newspaper publication. (Legislature removed this from the budget as a non-fiscal policy item.)
  • Converting the state's health plan for local governments into a self insurance program. (The Legislature rejected the Governor's recommendation and removed it from the state budget.
What's in the state budget Act?  
  • Creates new personal property tax exemption. Exempts machinery, tools, and patterns, other than items considered manufacturing property under current law, effective January 1, 2018. Creates a state aid program to reimburse municipalities for the lost tax revenue. The amount of the reimbursement for each community is based on the amount of property taxes levied in 2017 and collected in 2018 on the personal property exempted by the budget motion. Payments will remain at the initial payment amount in future years. Estimated total payments for the reimbursement program equal $74,400,000 annually.
  • Prohibiting local governments from using condemnation to acquire land for bike paths, bike lanes, and pedestrian ways, like sidewalks.
  • Prohibiting local governments from prohibiting home rentals of seven consecutive days or longer.
  • Increases funding for the GTA program for municipalities by $27 million or 8.5%. The prior budget set the annual GTA funding level for cities, villages, and towns at $321,260,500 for 2017 and thereafter. Act 59 increases that amount to $348,639,300 for 2018 and thereafter.
  • Provides an additional $5,000,000 annually for total annual funding of $32,832,200 for LRIP. This amount is shared between counties, cities, villages and towns. 
  • Clarifies that the local room tax applies to Airbnb and other short term rentals.
  • Requires Airbnb to collect room taxes for municipalities.  
  • Exempts fees for the production, storage, transmission, sale and delivery of water for public fire protection purposes from the requirement in Wis. Stat. sec. 66.0602(2m)(b) that a community reduce its allowable levy by the amount of new or increased fire protection fees it collects. (This means a community may shift from paying the fire hydrant rental out of its general levy and place it as a fee directly on water utility bills without having to reduce its general levy.)
  • Eliminates an exception to the requirement that communities reduce their allowable levy by any decrease in debt service for debt issued before July 1, 2005. Deletes language exempting a municipality from having to decrease its allowable levy if it does not carry forward unused levy capacity from a prior year. (This modification to the levy limit program first applies to amounts levied in December, 2017.)
  • Repeals local authority to license soda water beverages. 
  • Increases dollar threshold for condemnation awards under which property owners may recover litigation expenses. 
  • Prohibits Milwaukee's downtown Business Improvement District (BID) from assessing the apartment component of mixed use buildings. 
  • Requires that the ballot language of a municipal levy limit referendum include the specific purpose for which the additional funds levied would be used. This provision would first apply to a resolution to exceed the levy limit that is adopted on the effective date of the state budget, September 23, 2017. 
In the News
Biking Advocates And Local Officials Criticize State Budget Item
Two Rivers City Manager Greg Buckley says the provision cuts into a long practice of local use of eminent domain, or condemnation.

"It's both frustrating from a policy standpoint and hard to understand why bike and pedestrian facilities have now been carved out as some sort of pariah public use that doesn't rise to the level where this tool can be employed when necessary," Buckley said. He added that a bike and pedestrian trail being planned to go to Two Rivers High School may be in jeopardy.

On Friday, Madison City Attorney Michael May filed a  public records request seeking details of the finance committee action. Walker's office did not respond to a request for comment.  Read the full article here...

Walker's veto of historic tax credit program threatens dozens of projects
Gov. Scott Walker's line item budget veto this week to Wisconsin's historic tax credit program, reducing the per-project cap from $5 million to $500,000, could jeopardize dozens of real estate developments.

The former Garfield Avenue Elementary School will be transformed into 30 apartments. The $16.9 million project is receiving $1.3 million in historic tax credits.
"We have several projects on the drawing board in different phases that will be directly affected to the point of being infeasible by this and in complete suspension right now," said Sig Strautmanis of General Capital. "I can promise you there is one project we are working on right now in particular that absolutely depends on state historic tax credits and in all likelihood will come to a screeching halt unless the governor comes to an understanding about the potential impact of this." Read the full article here... 

North-south corridor plans for La Crosse shelved again
The Department of Transportation has indefinitely halted work on the Coulee Region Transportation Study, which was scheduled to be completed last year and is part of a two-decade effort to connect Hwy. 53 and the northern suburbs to downtown La Crosse.

The project is one of 15 so-called major projects "undergoing a reevaluation of cost, scope and priority," according to a DOT memo, which did not specify the reason for the work stoppage. Read the full article here...
Recently Introduced Legislation  

SB 419/ AB 503, L ocal government employee grievance procedure. This bill provides if a local government creates a grievance procedure for its employees, the procedure must contain termination, discipline, and workplace safety elements. Unless the discipline procedure provides otherwise, the local government may not define discipline to include any form of employment action other than suspension, termination, disciplinary reduction in rank, or any other disciplinary measure that results in a loss of wages to the employee that is contemporaneous with and directly related to the employment action. The bill also provides that if an employer places any written disciplinary materials in an employee's personnel file, the employer must so notify the employee, who has the right to place a written response to those materials in his or her file. By Sen. Wangaard (R-Racine) and Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukvilee). (
This bill was initiated by the Wisconsin Counties Association with the League's assistance. 
The League supports this bill.)
Public Hearings  

No public hearings scheduled on municipal bills this week.