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Local officials propose one percent sales tax hike for Milwaukee County

Posted at 1:35 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 18:26:21-04

MILWAUKEE — Watch a news conference about the proposal live below:

Several city, county, and state representatives announced plans Monday to move forward with a proposed sales tax increase in Milwaukee County, intended to provide property tax relief and promote investment in the county's municipalities.

The proposal would allow Milwaukee and other local municipalities to pursue a binding referendum for a 1 percent sales tax increase that proponents say would be reinvested into the community through property tax relief and other countywide priorities.

“It is time to Move Forward Milwaukee,” said Democratic Wisconsin State Representative Evan Goyke. “Our local governments need the opportunity to realize a portion of the return on investment they've made in building strong communities."

The proposed plan could bring in an extra $160 million in the first year, with more than 25 percent of the income projected to come from visitors and non-residents, according to the proposal.

Additional revenue is expected to be used for local priorities including: the reduction of property taxes, investments in municipal buildings and deferred maintenance.

“For years we have been doing more with less as state aids continue to decline, and having the option to generate local revenue represents a watershed moment for us to not only sustain ourselves, but to thrive for generations to come,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

“This plan is the best way forward for us to give Milwaukee County taxpayers the services and programs they deserve,” Abele said.

A binding referendum would need to be approved at the state level - a prospect that seems unlikely given Republicans currently control both chambers of the legislature.