SAUKVILLE — The Mid-Moraine Municipal Association held its second dinner meeting of the year on Wednesday evening at the Saukville American Legion, where the sales tax referendum on the April 4 ballot was discussed.
Toni Herkert, government affairs director at the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, gave a talk to the group about how the state budget is coming along.
"The general topic was the sharing of the state of Wisconsin sales tax," said Mid-Moraine Municipal Association Executive Director Michael Miller. "There is talk about 20 percent of the state sales tax going back to cities, villages, towns and counties in place of the current shared revenue system."
Wisconsin created its shared revenue system shortly after becoming a state, but it restricts local municipalities in their ability to levy taxes. Counties can impose up to a 0.5 percent sales tax in addition to the state’s 5 percent sales tax, but the state still takes in the majority of all sales tax. The amount that the state shares with local governments as hovered around $900 million for around 20 years. But this year the state is working with an estimated budget surplus of $7 billion, and both Republicans and Democrats see this as an opportunity to revisit sharing the state sales tax to help local governments facing tight budgetary conditions.
Republican lawmakers in Madison have been discussing increasing the amount of sales tax revenue shared with local governments since December of last year. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said in his State of the State address in January that he would support a budget provision that would dedicate up to 20 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue to shared revenue with local governments.
"It’s being discussed at the moment," said Miller. "We don’t know what’s ultimately going to happen."
The last association dinner meeting was in January where there was a lot of discussion of the upcoming nonbinding referendum on the April ballot related to a shared sales tax. Many municipalities will ask voters whether Washington County should share 20 percent of sales tax collected with the local municipalities that generate the revenue.
Miller said that was also a topic of informal conversation at Wednesday’s dinner.
"It was discussed to ask our members to have the people they represent get out and vote yes on the referendum," said Miller.
The Mid-Moraine Municipal Association was established to create an opportunity for area leaders to routinely meet and share information pertinent to Washington County and Ozaukee County.
Association members include those from West Bend, Slinger, Saukville, Kewaskum, Jackson, Hartford, Germantown and others.
The next association dinner will be on May 24 in Newburg. Miller said that the association hopes to have State Senator Duey Stroebel as the guest speaker to give an update to the group on the state budget.