Happy August! Welcome back to another Weekly Insider.
This week will bring you news from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, circulating legislation, your weekly poll responses, an all new Weekly Member Poll, and another Property Taxpayer of the Week!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
This week, we will hear from Todd Stittleburg, owner of Antler King Trophy Products, Inc., and our most recent Property Taxpayer of the Week.
"I grew up on a dairy farm near LaValle, Wisconsin," Todd started off. "And after handling on average 25,000 small square bales of hay each year, I realized there had to be an easier way to make a living."
Todd started the company around 32 years ago. According to antlerking.com, "Todd was working as an animal nutritionist for one the largest feed companies in North America at the time, while spending every minute of his spare time on researching and studying deer and elk nutrition."
"I started out mixing and filling bags of deer mineral in the evenings and then peddling this product to feed stores and sporting goods stores on weekends," he explained.
Also on the Antler King website, the Antler King Trophy Deer Mineral, which was the very first product and now the flagship product, "is the #1 selling deer mineral on the market today."
"What started as a dream has grown considerably," Todd said.
"Today, we have approximately 30 manufacturing plants throughout the U.S., which manufacture and package our products."
Todd explained that due to the considerable weight of the products, multiple manufacturing sites help defray freight costs.
"We employ about 20 people, and market our products nationwide and into Canada," he said. "[Also] recently in the United Kingdom."
We asked Todd what his biggest source of pride is.
"We pride ourselves on offering very high-quality products at a fair price," he said. "It is also really rewarding to travel 1000 miles away from home and see Antler King products on a store shelf or see someone drive by with our logo on the back window of a truck."
And the company doesn't just offer the one product. Antler King additionally offers a full line of feed, seed, mineral, block, attractants and liquid products designed to maximize the potential for deer herds on hunting property.
Todd told us that he does not have a personal relationship with his lawmakers, "but I do believe that Gov. Walker has businesses best interest at heart."
Not surprisingly, Todd has found the Personal Property Tax to be a particular burden to his business.
"But I do appreciate what WPT has done to help alleviate some of that burden."
Mr. Stittleburg has been married to his "college sweetheart" for 32 years, and told us that he has been blessed with four great children and one granddaughter.
"I enjoy hunting, fishing, working on my farm, and virtually all outdoor activities," he said. "My favorite spot in this great state would be the Driftless Region, specifically Yuba, Wisconsin."
We wish Todd and the entire team at Antler King continued success in their endeavors.
For more information on Antler King Trophy Products, Inc., visit their website by
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
FISERV ANNOUNCES BUCKS ARENA NAMING RIGHTS DEAL, COMES UNDER FIRE FOR STATE HANDOUT
Financial technology services company Fiserv, which is headquartered in Brookfield, announced alongside the Milwaukee Bucks that the company would become the title sponsor of the new arena located in downtown Milwaukee. The construction of the arena, to be named the Fiserv Forum, received about $250 million in tax dollars in 2015.
But those aren't the tax dollars currently being scrutinized. Fiserv itself last year was awarded up to $12.5 million in state subsidies over the next five years if it promised to stay in Wisconsin and build its new headquarters here, along with the contingency of keeping 93 percent of its jobs in the state.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have seemed skeptical, including Governor Walker, who said he would look at whether Fiserv should still be eligible for the taxpayer handout.
While no specific dollar amounts were disclosed in the naming rights deal, but some estimates are guessing the deal likely cost about $35 million total over multiple years.
MULTIPLE BUSINESSES SUE EAU CLAIRE, ALTOONA OVER PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT
A group of local businesses, mainly retail stores, are suing Eau Claire and Altoona, alleging an over-assessment of their properties that they claim resulted in higher-than-normal property taxes.
Two of the companies were Woodman's and Walmart. Businesses and individuals have the right to appear before their local board of review to challenge or appeal their property tax assessments. If their challenges are denied, they may file an additional claim directly to the municipality. Finally, if no resolution is granted, legal action is then permitted to take place.
After going through the process, neither Woodman's or Walmart came to any settlement with the taxing entities, and are now seeking refunds of $62,000 and $86,000 respectively.
U.S. ARMY TO INCREASE WELL TESTING NEAR OLD BADGER PLANT
The Untied States Army is increasing its testing of wells near the Wisconsin River near the old Badger Army Ammunition location, a site where weapons and explosives were once manufactured.
In recent tests, the site, located between Baraboo and Sauk City along Highway 12, has returned positive results for increased contamination, particularly dinitrotoluene (DNT), which is a chemical specific to explosives that can cause cancer. One nonprofit's director said the current levels are not enough reason to be worried, but testing will now be increased as a result of the findings.
Last year, the Army announced that it would no longer be able to fund a municipal drinking water system for Merrimac. Sen. Tammy Baldwin later intervened to push for a resolution for local residents in the area. Earlier this year, the state's DNR got involved, implementing new safety standards that establish levels of contaminants safe for consumption.
DNR PARK RANGERS TO RETURN TO LAW ENFORCEMENT ROLL WITHIN STATE PARKS SYSTEM
As part of a department restructuring, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) last year removed the law enforcement status of over 100 park rangers around the state, handing all of those law enforcement duties instead to conservation wardens.
In a reversal of that policy, the Wisconsin DNR has again decided to re-implement park rangers as the primary law enforcement agents for the states parks and recreational areas.
The initial move caused conservation wardens to travel across the state, and according to one news outlet, this caused for mounting costs for lodging, fuel, food, and overtime pay.
But a spokesperson from the department said that after a half year of observations, they have decided to put law enforcement credentials back into the parks and forestry program in order to save. The move back to the original format is expected to save taxpayers between $1.5 and $2 million in law enforcement costs.
WISCONSIN FARM REAL ESTATE VALUES STILL ON THE RISE
If you add up all of the farm buildings and land in the entire State of Wisconsin, the value comes out to $74.8 billion, which is a massive nine percent increase from last year's values. The US Department of Agriculture numbers show that an average acre of cropland dropped one percent to $5,150, and pasture land values jumped four percent to $2,450 per acre.
The state also had a cropland rental rate of $140 per acre, according to the USDA numbers, with non-irrigated cropland rent jumping $1 per acre, now averaging $134 per acre. Irrigated cropland rent is at $238 per acre, down $5 from two years ago. Pastureland rents for an average of $40 per acre.
COST OF FARMING IN WISCONSIN ROSE IN 2017
An average-sized farm's costs in the Badger State rose last year in comparison to 2016, according to the USDA. On average, total farm expenditures came in at $11.6 billion in 2016, a jump of 6 percent. The record high was $13 billion in 2014.
The largest production expense was feed cost, for which, Wisconsin farmers paid $1.89 billion, though down three percent from 2016. Farm services totaled $1.63 billion, a jump of 5 percent.
Livestock, rent, chemicals, fertilizer, interest, taxes, and machinery all increased. Labor cost less than 2016.
But the biggest, and perhaps most startling increase, was miscellaneous capital expenses, which rose 60 percent. According to the USDA, expenditures for the average Wisconsin farm was $168,686, up from $158,591 in 2016. The expenditure average for a Midwestern farm was $188,637.
KIMBERLY-CLARK DEAL TOO SWEET FOR ARKANSAS
An official in Arkansas said that the State of Wisconsin's deal to keep Kimberly-Clark in the state with $100 million in tax incentives is way too sweet of a deal for his state to match. He said the deal is "unprecedented."
According to the Milwaukee Journal, the director of the Arkansas Economic Development Corporation said that Wisconsin deal is "setting a new bar" for these types of packages, but ultimately the State of Arkansas "has a fiduciary responsibility to three million taxpayers."
He then acknowledged that his inside sources have signaled that the plant in his state will close.
Senators in Wisconsin last week met to discuss the package, though no immediate results from their deliberations were acknowledged.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Governor Walker's much-anticipated reinsurance plan to lower Affordable Care Act premiums was approved by President Trump's administration. After reading the article; good plan or bad plan?
Government should not be in the health care business
If it helps lower the premiums, its good. Obamacare has ruined any chance at affordable healthcare, can't wait to go on medicare, at least I will have something to fall back on if my health becomes an issue. I am actually on the Obamacare exchange, just take the cheapest I can find but never use it, what a joke, I liked my old plan and the benefits I wanted, not something chosen for me by the government, which I know that's what you can expect with Medicare, so I feel like I'm basically on it already. I would never pay the premium the insurance company gets for my plan, way over priced, and has made a mess of our healthcare system, after years of being responsible and purchasing my own health insurance that I CHOSE, to come to the paying for maternity coverage, when its not happening with a couple in their early 60's, is such farce, and that is why I will never vote for a democrat again!
I think we need to stop the insurance and health care companies from raping the public's pocketbooks. DO MORE to bring down the costs without sacrificing quality. There are tens, if not hundreds of millions of wasted dollars in that system...
what we had before worked - the HRSP and Badger Care programs were fine. Don't think the government should have anything to do with insurance
This will not solve the long term problem. My premiums went up 35% this year so I had to drop my plan!
The Affordable Care Act is very helpful to small business owners. Also helpful to people with pre-existing conditions. It is also helpful when one spouse is retired and on medicare and the other is not. Our premiums have not gone up, but our deductible did.
At least he's taking action
Good deal. I'm on the Obamacare act. I make to much money and am self employed. So is nice to see possibly the premium could go down. Just a hand full of years I'll be on Medicare anyway.
Kimberly-Clark has now said they are open to discussing a deal with the State of Wisconsin for $109.5 million in tax incentives in exchange for keeping a Wisconsin facility open along with 610 jobs. Should the State Legislature reconvene and approve a tax deal for Kimberly-Clark?
What part of NO CORPORATE WELFARE do you not understand?
Keep them in Wisconsin and their 610 jobs too.
I wish I could get tax free building materials to expand my business! Oh wait my business has only been in Beloit for 150 years and on average employed 6 workers a year. sorry i forgot us small businesses should just keep our mouths shut and let the government trample all over us.
They opened the door wide with Foxcon, it's going to be hard to close
Fox Conn may need those workers for their large operation, since there is such a worker shortage in our state. Kimberly-Clark has no loyalty to Wisconsin or its workforce apparently since they want to pack up and leave, let them go! Just like Harley Davidson! Fair weather employers
We spend billions to get new jobs but generally nothing to keep jobs thaat are here. My question is what is the union giving up in wages? What is management giving up in salaries??
We need the jobs. But not for $109.5 million in "deal" money
government bail outs should not be the norm
I think we may see a trend here since the government has bent over backwards for foxconn!
Don't bail out failing companies.
I think long ago states made the bad choice of subsiding businesses and now it is very hard to stop.
I think Kimberly Clark should be helped, but it seems like they are expecting quite a bit to keep 2 plants open.
KC either sees value in Wisconsin and the people of the fox valley or they don't. Simple as that.
An Obama-appointed federal judge in Madison has ordered Wisconsin Medicaid (BadgerCare) to pay for gender reassignment surgeries. The judge said if the state did not pay, the plaintiffs would suffer "ongoing, irreparable harm." Good ruling or bad ruling?
This ruling is a travesty.
If you do it for one , you need to do it for others too.
They want gender reassignment pay for it out of their own pocket
I'm not in favor of it and would rather not help fund it
If I would share my thoughts, I would be politically incorrect, so I will just say asinine ruling
You make a decison to be something your not that is a personal choice - not a medical necessity!
Uh, no. That's proof that this judge should not be at their post.
What would the "irreparable harm" be? Many people suffer various illnesses and get no paid surgeries.
Madison...the new California! What an outrage, common sense no longer applies!!
Not a life saving surgery.
Tax payers and insurance companies should not be forced to pay for these kinds of surgeries!
This is chosen plastic surgery done because of mental health reasons.
This is like a nightmare. My neighbor wants Botox. Being "prettier" would help her mentally. The longer the state doesn't pay, the more she'll suffer irreparable harm. What a joke.
Well that's the people problem that want to have the medical procedure done. Enough is enough. Have to draw the line somewhere.
The Wisconsin sales tax holiday begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday. Do you plan to do any "tax free" shopping?
This is a stupid trick by politicians who want to buy voters. And it'll work, because of course it will.
Gimmick... fix the roads!
In the realm of things, the sales tax holiday is such a drop in the bucket, its really just an election year gimmick, the $100.00 per child tax rebate and this money should have just been sent to each school district, it would have made a bigger difference pooling it all together for the districts.
Who wants to fight the hordes of people that will be shopping? They will lower the prices when business drops off the cliff after this so-called "Sales tax Holiday".
Nightmare. Foolish. Short sighted. Oh yeah, save a few pennies in sales tax... /sigh Great knee-jerk reaction, pandering for votes move.
Yes hopefully jeans and athletic shoes.
It is the policy of WPT, Inc. to publish all comments that are submitted by members each week, often including broad differences of opinion within the weekly responses. Our organization values our role in fostering dialogue within our membership each week, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.