The Governor recommends as part of his state budget allowing local governments to increase levies annually by the greater of net new construction or 2 percent beginning with levies set in 2019. He also recommends eliminating the requirement that a municipality reduce its allowable levy by the amount by which it increase fees for garbage collection, storm water management, snow plowing, fire protection, or street sweeping.

The League strongly supports this long needed adjustment to levy limits for the following reasons:

  • From 2006-2011state imposed levy limits allowed a community to increase its levy from one year to the next by roughly the rate of inflation even if the community experienced little or no growth.

  • Since 2011 the limits have been based exclusively on the percentage increase in property value caused by new construction. Once the inflation floor was eliminated in 2011, many no-growth communities have been unable to increase their levies.

  • The state’s levy limit policy has created a dynamic in which fast growing cities and villages have the financial resources to invest in services and infrastructure that help them further increase their growth, while the many no-growth and slow-growth communities stagnate.

  • Since 2012, only 62 of 600 cities and villages experienced new construction averaging at least 2% per year over the six years. 186 experienced growth of less than .5% per year over the same time period. These slow-growing cities and villages are predominately small, with populations less than 5,000, but also include larger cities like West Allis and Racine. (Source: The Wisconsin Taxpayer, Vol. 86, Number 3, March 2018.)

  • Wisconsin has one of the strictest property tax levy restrictions in the country. Indeed, among the ten states in which local governments are most dependent on property tax revenue, Wisconsin’s net new construction limit on annual growth in property taxes is the most strict. Source: Dollars and Sense, Wisconsin Policy Forum, February 2019.

  • Of 1,852 cities, villages, and towns in the 2018-2019 tax year, 1,026 could increase their levy by less than 1%, because of low new construction rates, and 1,583 could increase their levy by less than 2%. Source: Governor Evers’ state budget address

  • According to the U.S. Census, Wisconsin cities and villages rank 36 nationally on spending for local services. (Total 2015 expenditures by Wisconsin cities and villages surveyed were $2,205 per capita, compared to $3,443 nationally, giving Wisconsin municipalities a national ranking of 36th.)
The League is posting examples on its website of how Wisconsin cities and villages are impacted by levy limits. Read about the challenges communities face because of state imposed levy limits by clicking on the button below.

Tell us your community's story using our impact of levy limits form that you can access here. Note that we may also use your story in media releases, in social media and in The Municipality magazine. (We haven't had a chance to post everyone's submission. We will be posting more stories as we can.)
This week, the Assembly Community Development Committee is holding an informational hearing on the impact of the arts on community development. The Committee Chair, Rep. Allen interviewed Anne Katz of Arts Wisconsin to introduce the topic. You can watch the interview and comment on the League's Facebook page here.

The committee has invited the following local officials and/or staff to testify about the good things happening in their community.

Dustin Skenadore—Oneida Nation Arts Program
A Celebration of Wisconsin’s Heritage

Nick Meyer, Jason Jon Anderson, —Eau Claire
Creative Entrepreneurship and Vitality

Jacobo Lovo, LaShawndra Vernon—Milwaukee
Community Cultural Development in Wisconsin’s Largest City

Intermission Performance—Dustin Skenadore

Paula Vandehey, Jane Lang – Fox Valley
Public-Private collaboration and creativity

Bob Fesser, Bill Huelsman, Rhonda Schmidt—Waukesha
Downtown Revitalization through the Arts

Alan Nugent, Amanda Scholtz – Pepin & Stockholm
Small Town Communities and Economic Development

Mayor Mike Palm, Kevin Ricks, Jay Salinas – Sauk County
Growing a Regional Creative and Community-Based Culture

The hearing is open to the public and will be held Tuesday, March 12, 2018, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., in room 412 East, State Capitol.

Will this be the year to close “Dark store” loophole? How it impacts you
Woodman’s in Sun Prairie is a recent example as they will be paying $90,955 less in property taxes after the grocery chain sued the city of Sun Prairie. The store claims its property tax assessment was too high.

The case was settled privately outside the courts last December, but now the effects are spreading throughout the city. Watch the video on WKOW here . Share the post and comment on the story on the League's Facebook page here.

Who Will Win State Budget Battle?
“All of the lobbyists and political observers in the Capitol are asking the same question and nobody knows how it will turn out,” says Curt Witynski, Deputy Executive Director and lobbyist for the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

“Right now it looks like a standoff,” says another veteran lobbyist. Read the story here .
#LocalGovMatters Podcast
Recent podcasts include League officials and staff from several different communities who were interviewed at the League's Lobby Day and a review of the Governor's budget bill by Jerry and Kyle Christianson of the WI Counties Association.

Listen to #LocalGovMatters on your PC or smartphone here.
Save the Date -
May 22 is the League's Municipal Government & Lobby Day

AB 66/ SB 82, Creative economy development initiative grants. Creates and funds a grant program administered by the Arts Board in the Department of Tourism for awarding grants of up to $40,000 on a competitive basis to businesses, local governments and business development organizations or associations working to promote individuals or organizations whose products or services have an origin in artistic, cultural, creative, or aesthetic content. By Rep. Kitchens (Sturgeon Bay) and Sen. Feyen (R-Fond du Lac). The League supports this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 74/ SB 83, Retail sales by taverns of intoxicating liquor for consumption off licensed premises. Eliminates the four-liter limit on “Class B” licensees for distilled spirits sales for off-premises consumption in municipalities that, by ordinance, allow such off-premises sales. By Sen. Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Rep. Vorpagel (R-Plymouth). The League is neutral on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 75, Prohibiting Local Regulation of Honorary Firearm Discharges. Prohibits municipal restrictions on the discharge of a firearm from being enforced against an honorary discharge of a firearm that involves the use of only blanks and that is part of an event honoring a current or former member of the military, law enforcement officer, or fire fighter or of military honors provided at a cemetery on Memorial Day or Veterans Day or at a veterans memorial site. The League is neutral on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 66, Creative Economy Development Initiative Grants. By Assembly Committee on Community Development, on Tuesday, March 12 at 12:30 p.m. in Room 412 East, State Capitol. The League supports this bill.

AB 55, Changes to Process for Placement of Sexually Violent Persons on Supervised Release. By Assembly Committee on Judiciary, on Thursday, March 14 at 11:00 a.m. in Room 300 Northeast, State Capitol. The League supports this bill.