The Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) will hold the first of four public hearings on the state budget on Friday, April 5, in Janesville, WI, at the Pontiac Convention Center. The hearing starts at 10:00 a.m. and will run all day. Janesville City Manager Mark Frietag has been invited to welcome the committee to Janesville as the first person to testify before the committee.

JFC will hold three other public hearings in April at the following locations. Each hearing begins at 10:00 a.m.

April 10 -- Oak Creek -- Oak Creek Community Center, 8580 South Howell Avenue

April 15 -- River Falls -- UW River Falls University Center, Riverview Ballroom #260

April 24 -- Green Bay -- UW Green Bay University Union, Phoenix Room

TAKE ACTION : If you attend these hearings be sure to testify in support of retaining the many items helpful to municipalities included in Governor Evers' state budget proposal, including:

  • 2% ($15 million) increase in shared revenue funding.
  • Relaxation of property tax levy limits -- allowing communities to increase their levy from the prior year the 2% or net new construction, whichever is greater.
  • Addressing the State's Transportation Funding Shortfall.
  • 10% increase in General Transportation Aids funding.
  • 10% increase in Mass Transit Operation s Aids.
  • Creation of a $10 million Transit Capital Assistance Program.
  • Closing the dark store and Walgreens property tax loopholes.
  • Restoring municipal ability to use eminent domain powers to acquire land for bike and recreation paths.

Written comments can be emailed to the committee at BudgetComments@legis.wisconsin.gov, or sent via U.S. mail to: Joe Malkasian, Room 305 East, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53702.

Click on the button below to read the League's memo to the Joint Finance Committee commenting on Governor Evers' state budget bill.
The League has learned that the Department of Revenue (DOR) will change its method for calculating the distribution of personal property aid payments for 2020. Last fall, DOR used a ratio method for determining each taxing jurisdiction’s personal property aid payment for 2019. The Department did not have data on the physical location of personal property within each municipality, nor did it collect from municipalities the actual taxes levied on the exempt locally assessed machinery, tools, and patterns (Code 2 personal property) in tax year 2017(18). Instead, DOR estimated payments for each taxing jurisdiction based on the TID-in ratio of assessed value of the exempt code 2 property to the total assessed value of each municipality. DOR then multiplied that ratio by the portion of each taxing jurisdiction's levy within each municipality to estimate an aid payment for each taxing jurisdiction.

This method resulted in some counties and school districts receiving an aid payment in 2019 regardless of whether they had that percentage of personal property value or levied any taxes on code 2 property in 2017(18). The method also shorted TIF districts where all or a great majority of the personal property in the community exists in the TID. 

The League and individual communities complained to DOR that it was not following the language of the law on how to distribute the personal property aid payments. The department has now determined to collect the necessary data from taxing jurisdictions to make it possible to accurately reimburse each taxing jurisdiction, including TIF districts, based on the actual amount of exempt locally assessed machinery, tools, and patterns (Code 2 personal property) within the district. The 2020 personal property aid payments will be distributed based on this more informed approach.

The Department recently sent an email to clerks and assessors asking them to file with the department by June 3 a personal property value report indicating the 2017 locally assessed machinery, tools, and patterns (Code 2) values. 
The Assembly Committee on Community Development is holding an informational hearing on April 16 at 1:00 in the State Capitol on creating and maintaining positive first impressions regarding your community. Committee chair, Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha), has invited the following community leaders to present to the committee:

  • Robert Duffy, Oconomowoc Bureau of Economic Development
  • David DeAngelis, Administrator, Village of Elm Grove
  • James Fenlon, Administrator, Village of Little Chute
  • Mike Darrow, City Administrator of New Richmond
  • Tiffany King, Exec. Dir., Mt. Horeb Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Dena Wortzel, Wisconsin Humanities Council
  • Dr. Arijit Sen, UW Milwaukee
In committee action last week, the following bills affecting municipalities were unanimously recommended for passage and are now available to be scheduled for a floor vote:

  • SB 91, creating a system, managed by a third party vendor, for buying and selling water pollution credits through a central clearinghouse. The League supports this bill.

  • AB 2, authorizing municipalities to use motor vehicle immobilization devices in addition to "the boot" on vehicles owned by habitual parking offenders. The League supports this bill.

  • AB 8, creating an exception to the requirement that an assessor notify a taxpayer when agricultural land is assessed differently from the the prior year if the difference between the two assessments is $500 or less. The League supports this bill.

  • AB 74, eliminating the four-liter limit on “Class B” liquor icensees for distilled spirits sales for off-premises consumption in municipalities that, by ordinance, allow such off-premises sales. The League is neutral on this bill.

The Great American Cardboard Comeback
“No one is shocked when a paper mill closes anymore. The shocking thing is when one reopens.”
The village of Combined Locks, Wis., founded when the mill opened in 1889, braced for the loss of its largest employer and feared that the community would be left with a hulking industrial wasteland, just like the other failed paper mills dotting the state. And for the first time since high school, Mr. Strick, who was then 58, started looking for a new job.

Then something unexpected happened: Amazon and China, two forces that are often blamed for destroying American employment in retail and manufacturing, helped Mr. Strick get his job back. Read the full story in the New York Times here.

Civics Is Name Of The Game In New Wisconsin Competition
(The League is a proud sponsor of the Civics Games.)
In its first year, the games attracted 54 teams from all over the state totaling more than 200 students.

"I thought the best way to interest high school students was through competition, through games, to encourage collaboration rather than one individual competing against another," Eve Galanter said. "Public service is in so many ways a team sport." Read the story on WPR here. Watch the Facebook live video of the first round of the finals on the League's Facebook page here.
You can Register Now!
May 22 is Municipal Government & Utility Day
Learn more and register here .
(Use the Public Registration Button)
This event is free for Local Officials & Staff of League member municipalities.

AB 117, Submission of building permit applications for 
one-family and two-family dwellings. Prohibits a municipality from requiring an applicant for a building permit for a one-family or two-family dwelling to submit the application in both paper and electronic forms. The bill also provides that if a municipality requires submission of the application in paper form, the applicant is allowed to submit any of the following: 1) a printed copy of the form that 
the municipality makes available electronically; 2) a printed copy of 
the form that the Department of Safety and Professional Services makes available electronically; or 3) the form that DSPS makes available to the public in paper form. By Rep. Jagler (R-Watertown) The League is neutral on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 138, Prohibiting "Sanctuary Cities." Prohibits a municipality from enacting or enforcing an ordinance or policy prohibiting the enforcement of federal or state laws relating to illegal aliens or ascertaining whether an individual has satisfactory immigration status. The bill also requires a municipality to comply with a 
lawful detainer that is issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and authorizes the attorney general or the district attorney or sheriff to file a writ of mandamus requiring compliance with the requirements created by the bill. If a court finds that a community has failed to comply, DOR must reduce the community's shared revenue payments in the next year by $500 to $5,000. By Rep. Spiro (R-Marshfield). The League has not yet taken a position on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 141, Due dates for paying property tax bills. Clarifies that property tax bill payments that are mailed to the proper official are
considered to be received on time if postmarked on or before the due date, regardless of when received. The bill also clarifies that if the due date is a Saturday or Sunday, the five-day “grace” period ends on the following Friday. By Rep. Ballweg (R-Markesan) The League is neutral on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 85, Requiring the Department of Health Services to establish state health-based groundwater quality standards for PFOA and PFOS. By Assembly Committee on Environment, on Thursday, April 4, at 1:00 p.m. in 300 Northeast, State Capitol. The League has not yet taken a position on this bill.

AB 56/ SB 59, State Budget Bill. By Joint Committee on Finance, on Firday, April 5, from 10:00-5:00 at the Pontiac Convention Center, Janesville, WI. See the League's memo to Joint Finance Committee members on the state budget bill, here.