State Senator Chris Larson Proposes Property Tax Cuts for Milwaukee County Homeowners
Calls for shifting tax burden to protect parks, cultural assets, improve transit, and public safety.
MILWAUKEE–State Senator Chris Larson, a candidate for Milwaukee County Executive in the April 5 Spring election, is calling for an end to the dishonest tax gimmicks used by the current County Executive and a reduction in property taxes for homeowners, to be funded by a one-cent sales tax increase.
“Milwaukee County homeowners are paying too much in property taxes. We need a better plan to pay our bills without further burdening our neighbors. I propose shifting some of the funding for Milwaukee County government from property taxes to a sales tax. This is similar to the plan approved by voters in a 2008 referendum.
“This will shift some of the costs to out-of-town visitors who benefit from our business district, cultural institutions, and public services, but who currently don’t pay their fair share to support them. “It would also allow us to significantly reduce the property tax levy.
“It’s time for an end to the dishonest tax gimmicks used by the current Milwaukee County Executive and his predecessor, Scott Walker,” noted Larson.
The same trick is used year after year: County Executive Abele proposes an unrealistic budget claiming to freeze property taxes, then he waits for the County Board to restore the service cuts and raise the levy. The next year Abele embraces the higher property tax and the process starts all over again.
When Milwaukee County voters approved a one-cent sales tax in 2008, experts estimated this would generate $130 million in annual revenue for Milwaukee County. Because of exemptions for essential needs – like rent, groceries, medicine, medical care, gasoline, and services – this plan is not regressive for families in poverty. In fact, those families would stand to benefit the most from an improved quality of life, access to more living wage jobs, quality parks, and a safer community.
In 2015, Milwaukee County’s current .5 cent sales tax generated $70.6 million, indicating that this plan could raise as much as $141 million a year. That’s over $70 million in property tax reduction and over $70 million in additional funds for parks, transit, emergency medical services, and public safety.
Approximately a third of the new revenue that comes from a one-cent sales tax increase would come from visitors that live outside Milwaukee County.
Chris Larson for Milwaukee County Executive