WAUKESHA — A resolution
opposing recently adopted changes to the state’s “room
tax” law was approved Tuesday by the Waukesha Common
Council, but some supervisors want to make sure the city
is paying its fair share for “destination marketing” in
The council voted 13-0 in favor of the resolution, which
“opposes any changes to the room tax law being included
in the state budget” and asks both the state Legislature
and Gov. Scott Walker to pull the new changes.
The new language was approved by the Legislature’s Joint
Finance Committee last month. Mayors from Waukesha,
Brookfield and other local municipalities have spoken
out against the changes, which require municipal money
to go toward tourism promotion and development.
Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said the changes will cost
the city approximately $50,000 per year from its general
fund and will also not allow the city to increase that
fund to offset the difference.
Similar legislation was introduced in the previous two
legislative sessions, but was unsuccessful. Because the
changes were attached by the JFC, there was no public
comment held on the matter.
Alds. Vance Skinner and Kathleen Cummings both mentioned
how room tax dollars were always meant to support
tourism, but have been used instead to supplement the
Tammy Tritz, executive director of the Waukesha Pewaukee
Convention and Visitor Bureau, acknowledged at Tuesday’s
meeting the new language is a difficult situation for
the council to handle, but said room tax money can still
be spent in a couple of ways.
“First, directly to a tourism entity, or second — which
is allowed right now — tourism commission which could be
appointed by a municipal leader,” she said. “So in this
case, Mayor Reilly has the ability to appoint terms as
well as specific folks to come to the commission to
determine how those dollars were going to be spent.”
Tritz said room tax dollars go toward destination
marketing, which includes all aspects of a community,
not just hotel advertising.
“I know this is a difficult situation for all of you to
address, but I do believe working together we can
continue to build revenues that come into our community,
we can continue to build jobs in our community,” she
said While some opposed the language itself, others were
upset that Waukesha has not had a say in a matter that
directly affects the city.
Skinner and Ald. Joe Pieper both took issue with the way
state politicians have legislated how things are done in
“I continue to be troubled by folks in Madison that make
rules and pass the laws that have a negative impact on a
municipality such as ours without much consultation,”
Pieper said. “I think there are more constructive ways
for the Legislature to work with municipalities around
matters like this.”