Thanks for reading another WPT Weekly Insider. We hope your work week is off to a great start.
As always, this week will bring you our weekly Property Taxpayer of the Week, News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, circulating legislation, your weekly poll responses, and an all new Weekly Member Poll.
We hope you find this weekly report to be interesting and informative. If there are ever any issues that you would like to see included, or if you ever have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
Have a great week,
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
Our Property Taxpayer of the Week for April 30th comes to us from Granton, WI, where Tim Sternitzky shared a bit about himself and his business with WPT last week.
"The Maple Dude [has] formally been a business for about 5 years, but I grew up around maple sugaring," Tim told us. "I am the owner and do most everything."
According to their website, Tim's family has been making maple syrup and other maple products in Wisconsin since 1856. That's a heck of a track record in the maple world. "It's a tradition that we take great pride in," the website says. "Our goal is to simply make the best maple products available."
The company also raises all natural, grass-fed bison.
"We make pure maple products including maple syrup, maple sugar, maple cream, maple cotton candy, nuts, popcorn candy, etc," he said. "We also sell maple equipment and supplies for those who make maple syrup on their own."
As for employees, Tim wasn't kidding when he said he does most everything in the business.
"I use my dad, Ernie's help during the season and have one employee right now," Tim explained.
When it comes to challenges in the industry, it's a bit different than the usual struggles.
Tim said, "challenges include not knowing what production will be from year to year. With maple, it can really vary a lot."
His biggest source of pride?
"I like making a quality all natural product that people enjoy. I also like marketing the products and using social media to do so," he said.
Not surprisingly, taxes take a toll on this small business, as well.
"The biggest issue for a small business owner is taxes, both property and income. Of course they are too high," he told us. "I've been with WPT for 2 years. I appreciate the work they do for small businesses like mine."
If you want to learn more about The Maple Dude, visit him at
or by liking their page on Facebook at THE MAPLE DUDE.
Last week, WPT began finalizing our next newsletter. We certainly hope you enjoy the upcoming edition.
With an election year now seemingly in full swing, we make sure to add articles that gives you the most current retirements and open seats in the state legislature, as well as information surrounding the most hotly-contested statewide races that will be on the ballot this fall.
We have also had some inquiries about the role that WPT takes in elections, and how we set ourselves apart from other organizations. The upcoming newsletter will explain all of that, and more.
This newsletter will also feature some guest articles from experts and lawmakers, and share a bit of their perspectives on current topics of interest. We are very fortunate to have great relationships around the state, and will be pleased to share different viewpoints on taxation and agriculture in Wisconsin.
Look for those newsletters to hit mailboxes in the coming weeks.
Last week, we also saw the Wisconsin DNR issue permits to the Foxconn construction site, as well as countless businesses and industries throughout the state bidding on the construction work itself. According to one Foxconn executive, nearly all of the contractors selected for the job are from Wisconsin. Though opinions remain divided around the state on Foxconn's presence in our state and the massive taxpayer subsidy it took to lure them here, we are glad to see some of our state's great companies awarded the contracts for the massive project in Racine County.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
ENVIRONMENTAL APPROVALS GRANTED TO FOXCONN
Foxconn Technology Group cut through two very large ribbons of regulatory tape last week, as Department of Natural Resources officials gave the green light to the Taiwanese corporation's plans to divert Lake Michigan water, as well as granting exemptions on air quality rules.
Under the water plan, the City of Racine will be allowed to divert Lake Michigan water to Mount Pleasant for the future 13,000-employee factory. The diversion will send an average of 7 million gallons per day to Mount Pleasant, 5.8 million of those would be used by Foxconn each day.
The air quality component of the approvals allows Foxconn to emit organic compounds and nitrogen oxides into the air at levels not allowed to other businesses.
As would be expected, local residents and environmental groups have raised concerns about the impacts of the corporation's plans. One question is whether or not the water diversion plan violates or is in-line with the Great Lakes Compact, and current state law.
'DARK SKY' EXERCISE PLANED FOR MAY 15-17
Residents in various communities across the state will experience a full-scale training exercise, aimed at simulating a long-term mass power outage in Wisconsin.
The exercise, known as Dark Sky, will run from May 15-17 in Brown, Calumet, Dane, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Outagamie, and Winnebago Counties and will test the abilities of private utilities, law enforcement, first responders, and the National Guard, if they had to respond to this type of situation, as well as its "second and third order effects," a statement read.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says that residents should not be concerned if they noticed an increased emergency responder presence, military personnel, vehicles and equipment, or non-military unmanned aerial vehicles operating in their communities.
Officials have said that the goal is to increase understanding of the coordination, policies, and procedures required to conduct a joint-inter-agency response to cyber and physical threats to critical infrastructure in Wisconsin.
Residents in Omro will experience approximately 110 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers, who will partner with local emergency officials, fire and policy, and do a door-to-door canvass of residents on May 16th.
MARCH EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS RELEASED
The Department of Workforce Development last week released the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates of employment and unemployment statistics for metro areas, major cities, and counties in Wisconsin.
In Metropolitan Statistical Areas, unemployment rates declined in all twelve of Wisconsin's metro areas when compared over the year to March 2017. The rates ranged from 2.4 percent in Madison to 3.7 percent in Racine.
In municipalities, rates decreased in all of the state's 32 largest municipalities when compared over the year to March of last year. Beloit had the largest year over year decline of 1.5 percent, and Superior saw the second largest decline with a 1.1 percent drop. The lowest unemployment was Fitchburg at 2.0 percent, and the highest in Racine at 4.6 percent.
Unemployment numbers in all 72 counties decreased from March of 2017, as well. The largest decline in unemployment was 2.4 percent in Menomonie County. The lowest unemployment was in Dane County at 2.2 percent, and highest in Iron County with 6.8 percent.
ALL WISCONSIN SCHOOLS MUST HAVE SECURED ENTRANCES BY FALL
Wisconsin's Attorney General, Brad Schimel announced last week that the state will use $30 million in grants passed by the legislature in March to ensure that all school entrances across the state are secure by the start of instruction in the autumn.
The attorney general, who is in charge of doling out $100 million for school safety programs and initiatives, announced that he hopes the first round of awards will be given by mid-June, which could potentially go to "thousands" of Wisconsin schools.
According to Schimel, his Department of Justice has already begun accepting requests for grants, though the schools will have to pay for the projects themselves first, and then be reimbursed by the state. The AG also said that he is committed to making sure that each of Wisconsin's over-3,000 schools receive at least some money from the program. In order to receive the money, schools will have to prove that all teachers and staff have no less than three hours of training in trauma and other life events in students' lives can impact the students.
UW-OSHKOSH ADMINISTRATORS FACE FELONY CHARGE
Two of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh's former administrators have been charged with felony criminal charges for their alleged roles in the financial mismanagement and "scandal" that has rocked the UW System over the past year. The two charged are Former Chancellor Richard Wells and former Vice Chancellor Tom Sonnleitner.
The two former officials are both charged with five counts of misconduct in office. Each count carries a max penalty of 3 and a half years in prison. The complaint alleges that they moved $11 million in taxpayer dollars to five building projects being partially-financed by the school's foundation, which later went bankrupt. The projects were the Alumni Welcome Center, the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel, biodigesters, and the Oshkosh Sports Complex.
The charges come after the UW System's Board of Regents, in a first-of-its-kind move, asked the Department of Justice to pursue civil and criminal charges against the individuals.
MILK PRICES BEGIN TO RISE
The USDA last week announced that the all milk price for March ticked up 60 cents from the month prior to $16.20 per hundredweight in Wisconsin. That's still $1.80 lower than March of 2017, but a small sign of relief that things might be trending in the right direction for Wisconsin's dairy farmers.
The U.S. all milk price was 60 cents lower than in Wisconsin, at $15.60, but 20 of 23 of the largest milk producing states had a higher price than they did in February.
A 40-pound block of cheese closed off the week at $1.62 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last week, which was a slight uptick, and the butter price was up nine cents at $2.36 per pound.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
The sales tax holiday has been signed into law, and is extended to all Wisconsin residents from August 1st to 5th. Do you plan on taking advantage of this opportunity?
Maybe Printer ink if allowed.
Not in favor of program.
limited qualified merchandise and 5.5% discount whoope
The sales tax holiday is a gimmick. I pity the retailers who will need to reprogram their systems for 5 days.
Landlords have been given some new protections under a law signed by Governor Walker last week. After reading the article...
5 year BAN on returning to check for violations... = 5 years to be a Slum-Lord!
I think that landlords in college towns have gotten away with maintaining crappy properties and overcharging students for far too long. I think that any property owner that is renting residential units should be held to current standards. If that means annual inspections and penalties for noncompliance, so be it. As an insurance agent in a college town I'm appalled by the conditions that i see when underwriting student rentals. Some landlords put a little lipstick on it and thinks its pretty when in reality they wouldn't allow their own families or children live in those conditions. Clean up their act or fine them until they do and then keep an eye on them to make sure they stay ahead of deplorable maintenance that i see in my community.
To many landlords don't care about the problems have and they have to many rentals and can't take care of them properly.
years ago I was surprise that a renter had more authority then I as a landlord
It is about time the landlords have some protection from tenants who play games with the ordinances in cities
This is anti-consumer, anti-local control. The representatives only represent the rich and powerful. Sad.
The historic tax credit was increased from $500,000 to $3.5 million. Good idea or bad idea?
Weneed something like this to help the younger people to understand the history of local communty's and how we have evolved into the modern times.
We have more important needs for our tax dollars.
Times change progress is limited in small struggling communities
I travel in Europe and seen historic buildings but there are only a few buildings in this country that are historic and the system is abused
Often used by developers who could afford to fund the project without assistance.
If you want to restore something historic, how about our roads and bridges?
$6.8 million in tax dollars will fund an advertising campaign targeting millenials living in the Twin Cities and Detroit media markets, aimed at promoting Wisconsin as a better place to live and work. Thoughts?
I'm in the middle, but do we really need to spend this much for advertising??
Let the employers "Advertize" (their) "jobs"
My Guess is that Minnesota communities are experiencing the same labor shortages that we are here. Lets spend $6.8M trying to convince Wisconsin residents that are currently receiving public assistance that hard work is the only way to get ahead.
Currently, we have more jobs than people to fill them. It's been a battle in our growing business.
there are so many things for our tax dollars to go to, is this really the best use of funds?
recruitment for much needed qualified workers
use the money for something more important, for example schools or to clean up inner cities
I can think of much better places to spend that money. Wisconsin would be more attractive if education and the environment was a priority.
Enable small businesses to offer apprenticeships instead - with grant money or other intent incentives to hire students in their local area, there is a real labor shortage
Waste of money.
With the new ad campaign being sent to different parts of the Midwest to promote the Badger State, what's something you believe sets Wisconsin apart from the rest? The kindness of our people? Our sports? Scenery? Food and beverage? Share some of your favorite things or places about the wonderful state of Wisconsin.
Outdoors, recreation, pro and college sports
Wisconsin is so unique that this state has everything a person would want. Yes beverage(beer),professional sports and every season a person could want and do for outdoor activity's.
People are kind and welcoming. It's a city with a lot to offer, while keeping a small town feel.
Road America, Pizza, Soda. Wisconsin Dells.
Overall the hold State of Wi the people are common sense except Dane County
We love our life in the Driftless Area for so many reasons. But I am fearful because State seems to be selling out to out of state businesses and cutting budgets for our natural resources. DNR seems to have little to no power in protecting these resources.
Proximity to great recreational opportunities.
The "work ethic" and the people
Dairy farms and recreation
At least we're not Iowa.
Listen up, snowflakes. Wisconsin isn't that special. Every state has natural beauty and interesting food. Except Illinois. They are terrible.