Congratulations to the mayor…of La Crosse

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That would be Tim Kabat.

Earlier this week Kabat released his annual budget proposal for the city of La Crosse. Kabat is calling for a tax rate decrease with a very slight increase in spending (the tax levy).

I find that to be fiscally responsible. There’s more, however, to my praise for Kabat.

The mayor is one of many locally elected officials in Wisconsin that has been outspoken in their opposition to what they call the “dark store loophole.” A frequent pattern has seen national retailers appealing their local assessments that are based on the property value of an active store. The businesses claim they should be taxed as a vacant building. Courts have repeated ruled the business have been overtaxed by the local municipalities who are then obligated to pay back the businesses. Local officials lament the situation, and this is important, submitting they are forced to shift the subsequent tax burden onto homeowners.

At a roundtable discussion last week Mayor Kabat said the lawsuits by big boss stores have cost the city of La Crosse nearly $400,000 since 2014, and the problem is growing.

“They’re basically suing us every year for every assessment,” Kabat said. “That burden is being shifted onto our homeowners, which just isn’t fair.”

Then why is Kabat commendably proposing a budget tax levy that is essentially nothing? Shouldn’t he be crying the blues that he has no choice because of the big, bad, evil corporations but to raise the taxes of the little guy?

Kabat’s actions don’t fit the anti-loophole template.

UPDATE: What about Franklin?

Erik Hanley reports for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Overall, the city is budgeting for a 1.72 percent increase in the tax levy, which amounts to $361,526 more coming into the city.

Sounds quite reasonable, but Hanley also reports:

The mayor’s recommended 2019 city budget includes a lower estimated tax rate compared to 2018.

The estimated tax rate for 2019 will be $5.43 per $1,000 of assessed value, which is over 3 percent lower than the 2018 rate of $5.62 per $1,000 of assessed value.

But taxpayers should beware the recent reassessment done by the city could mean that even though the tax rate is going down, the value of your home on the assessment rolls might have gone up, so your total tax bill might not actually decline. 


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