Assessment Practices Bill Headed for Senate Hearing

AB 610/SB 630, Prohibiting Certain Property Tax Assessment Practices. Unfortunately, this poorly conceived bill is advancing to the public hearing stage in the Senate Housing, Commerce and Trade Committee on Tuesday, December 7th at 10:01 am in room 201 Southeast of the State Capitol. The League and individual Mayors have communicated with the committee Chair, Senator Jagler (R-Watertown) on the significant concerns causing municipalities to oppose SB 630/AB 610. The Assembly passed an amended version of AB 610 on October 26th. The League continues to oppose the amended version of AB 610 because it prohibits assessors from using the income approach for determining the fair market value of properties for property tax purposes. Read the Legislative Council memo describing the bill and the amendments to the bill, here. Read the League's testimony on the Assembly Bill here. For more information see comments by Waukesha Mayor Reilly and the Madison City Assessor both in opposition. The authors continue to contemplate additional amendments and we will be analyzing any modifications as they are released.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station Legislation

What started as a proposal the League supported, AB 588/SB 573, creating additional opportunities for private businesses to develop electric vehicle charging facilities, turned into a prohibition against municipalities or state agencies from owning, operating, managing, leasing, or controling EV charging facilities. Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce is behind the push for the change and has convinced the authors to introduce a substitute amendment.

The amendment would allow communities to work with a third party, such as a business or investor owned utility, to place EV charging facilities on municipal property, including parking garages, parks, libraries and city hall, for use by the public. It would also allow municipal electric utilities, of which there are 80 statewide, to own and operate EV charging stations under certain conditions. Finally, the amendment would allow communities to own and operate EV charging stations to be used solely for the purpose of recharging municipal fleets.

We believe the prohibition against municipal ownership of EV charging stations is short sighted, especially in light of the federal infrastructure dollars that have been targeted to states and localities for the build out of EV charging facilities. In order to design and develop a reliable network of EV charging facilities, including in areas where costs may outweigh benefits and thus not attract private business investment, municipalities and state agencies must be part of the roadmap for delivering reliable charging services to municipal residents, tourists and small businesses.

ACTION: Please consider contacting the members of the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee who will be voting on the substitute amendment on Wednesday, December 8th at 1:30 pm to express your concern and opposition to the proposed substitute amendment to AB 588/SB 573.

Municipal Bills Signed into Law

Last week, the following five legislative proposals the League directly worked on or supported were signed into law:

  • Act 93 (AB 99), related to Great Lakes Dredging, which provides a greater degree of flexibility for the dredging of great lakes waters and the beneficial reuse of the dredged material which still safeguarding our environment. Thank you to Senator Jacque and Senator Cowles and Representatives Sortwell and Kitchens for your work on this important initiative.
  • Act 102 (SB 303), related to local General Transportation Aids reporting requirements for towns and villages. This legislation reduces the penalties when small communities miss General Transportation Aids reporting deadlines. Thanks to Senator Ballweg and Representative Petryk for recognizing this issue and working to find a solution.
  • ACT 104 (SB 374), related to a statewide Urban Search and Rescue Taskforce and Regional Emergency Response Team. This legislation broadens the scope of practice for the current structural collapse team by allowing the new urban search and rescue taskforce to also respond to vehicle extrication, confined space, wide space and water rescues. The bill also streamlines the reimbursement process for local municipalities. Thanks to Senator Ballweg and Representative Loudenbeck for authoring this important legislation.
  • Act 107 ( SB 434), related to municipal raze orders for certain insured dwellings. This Act modifies how raze orders are issued and implemented for certain structures. The League originally opposed the bill but worked with the Chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee, Representative Steffen, and the authors of the bill, Sen. Stafsholt and Rep. Magnafici, to amend the bill so that our concerns were addressed. With the amendment, the League changed its position to neutral on the legislation.
  • Act 112 (SB 489), related to procedural changes to applying for Clean Water Fund and Safe Drinking Water grants. The bill streamlines the application process, provides clarity, and makes the two processes more consistent and easier for municipalities to navigate. Thank you to Sen. Cowles and Rep. Kitchens for authoring this bill.
Finally, Thank you to Governor Evers who signed all these legislative proposals into law on Friday, December 3rd.

System of Paying for Local Government is Broken

On November 11, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an opinion piece by UW Madison professor Manny Teodoro calling for an end to municipal water utilities making payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to municipalities. (For many decades state law has allowed the governing body of a municipality that owns a water utility to require the utility to make an annual PILOT. Each municipal governing body has the discretion to determine the appropriate level of PILOT paid by its water utility, subject to Public Service Commission (PSC) regulations determining the maximum PILOT. According to the PSC, PILOTs by water utilities account for 15% of total water customer charges collected across the state.)
On December 3, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published Curt Witynski’s Op-Ed in response arguing that any review of water utility PILOTs needs to be part of a broader discussion about how municipalities should be funded, a discussion the League of Wisconsin Municipalities is eager to engage in with state policymakers. In his piece, Witynski maintains that Wisconsin’s system for funding local government is broken and needs a comprehensive revamp and that diversifying city revenue options and revitalizing state aid programs to help pay for police & fire services are key to lowering property taxes.  

Municipal Water Issues Webinar Series: THIS WEEK

Municipal Water Issues Webinar Series. Join the League December 7th-9th (12:00-1:30 pm) for three webinars focusing on Municipal Water Issues. View the Agenda, Municipal Speakers and Register on our website for this timely series of discussions on the following issues:

Tuesday - Best Practices for Managing Small Water Utilities
Wednesday - Municipal Experiences with PFAS – Approaches, Practices, and Lessons Learned 
Thursday - Managing Increased Flooding Events

The fee for all three sessions is $50 and there is still time to register.

Reminder - Complete the Municipal Dept. Head Wage Survey

Wondering what other municipalities are paying their Department Heads? Eric Atkinson, Menomonie’s Police Chief, has initiated a wage survey and has asked the League to help distribute it. If you provide your email when completing the survey, Eric will share the results of the survey with you.