Michael Horne
House Confidential

Spencer Coggs’ Very New Northwest Side Home

Ironically, the City Treasurer lives next to three lots that are delinquent in paying him their property taxes.

By - Nov 11th, 2013 05:56 pm
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The Coggs' home.

The Coggs’ home.

In 2006, Phillip Hill and Valaine Hill, pastors of Faith Church, on the 4200 block of N. 78th St., decided to split off four lots from its excess property for the construction of single family homes.

In July, 2006, a permit was issued for a new home with an “estimated cost of $246,665.”

Today, this is the northwest side home of City of Milwaukee Treasurer G. Spencer Coggs and his wife Gershia C. T. Coggs, its original owners.

Their 1,975 square-foot residence includes two full baths, three bedrooms and a built-in gas-fired fireplace in its single floor. The structure restuens upon a full basement, and the above-ground portions of the home are clad in vinyl siding, for ease of maintenance. It has rain barrels — a good half dozen of them lined up along a windowless wall. One appears to be hooked up. There is an attached 491 square foot garage. It is the nicest and newest home in the neighborhood, and rests on a 10,675 square foot lot, expanded from 8,839 square feet when Coggs and his wife shelled out $1,000 for the purchase of the extra land in 2008.

Vacant lots.

Vacant lots.

The home was built by Khamit Development Company, run by Howard B. Kemp, Jr. It sits next door to the church property, while to the north and west, three other parcels were sold to AD2LUV LLC, Andre R. Crowley, President. Worse than that, the AD2LUV properties are tax delinquent, and this should be a concern to G. Spencer Coggs, whose job it is to collect taxes for all 6 jurisdictions that levy them in the City of Milwaukee.

The Coggs home itself is taxed at $5,312.62, and the treasurer has paid himself in full. His remittance covers about 4.6 per cent of his annual salary of $114,040 — a salary that Coggs feels is too low. (He asked for it to be increased to $125,000, a raise that was not adopted by the Common Council in the 2014 budget.)

This is busy season for Coggs, as his office prepares to mail 540,000 tax bills to property owners. Last year, Coggs collected $790,000,000 in total taxes, and placed about $235,000,000 of that in short-term investments, formerly the job of the City Comptroller. [This added duty provided the rationale for his requested pay raise.] Those investments and others brought in over $1,000,000 to the city treasury, part of which went to lower taxes, and most of which went to the general fund.

In the period 2001-2009, while Coggs was still in the legislature (where he served for 30 years), the City of Milwaukee Treasurer collected 99.89 per cent of all taxes due, considered to be a very good number. The treasurer over those years was also successful in collecting 93.89 per cent of delinquent taxes — like those for the vacant lots next door to Coggs’ home, as yet uncollected.

Even so, in 2012, he acquired 750 homes in tax foreclosure. These properties have a potentially serious blighting influence on the city, and the mayor’s budget includes millions of dollars to raze or sell these distressed properties.

The Rundown

  • Style: “Ranch”
  • Location: City of Milwaukee
  • Neighborhood: Arlington Gardens
  • Walk Score: 71 out of 100. “Very Walkable.” The Lindsay Park Cricket Ground is just a Marillier Shot away.
  • Street Smart Walk Score: 52 out of 100 “Somewhat Walkable” Chu Hai Oriental Market is a half a mile away.
  • Transit Score: 49 out of 100. “Some Transit”
  • Size: 1,975 square feet.
  • Year Built: 2006
  • Assessed Value: Land — $20,200; Improvements — $223,400; Total $243,600
  • Taxes: The $5,312.62 due to Treasurer G. Spencer Coggs is paid in full by G. Spencer Coggs and Gershia C. T. Coggs

How Milwaukee Is It? The Coggs residence is about 7.2 miles from City Hall via the Appleton Avenue route.

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About Spencer Coggs

Coggs ia a member of the well-connected Coggs family, whose relatives include former state representatives Isaac Coggs and his wife Marcia Coggs, who succeeded him in the state assembly, former county supervisor and state representative Elizabeth Coggs-Jones and Milwaukee Ald. Milele Coggs. Spencer served as a city of Milwaukee health officer and chief steward of his AFSCME union local, and as a postal worker and industrial printer before running for office.

The magical Coggs name no doubt helped him win election to the assembly in 1982 and helped reelect him until 2002. He was elevated to the state senate in 2003 in an election that recalled controversial Sen. Gary George from office.

During his long tenure as a lawmaker, rankings of legislators never tagged Coggs as either a “best” or “worst” legislator. He fell somewhere in the middle, in what might perhaps be classed as the solid-but-not-spectacular category.

During the protests in Madison over the bill to eliminate public worker collective bargaining rights, Coggs, along with the 13 other Democratic state senators, fled Wisconsin to deny the senate a quorum on the bill. The stratagem ultimately failed to prevent passage of the law.

Coggs ran unsuccessfully for Lt. Governor in 2010 and then in 2012 won election as city treasurer in a four-way race, with a narrow victory over his fellow Democratic state Sen. Tim Carpenter.

Categories: House Confidential

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