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We’re in this together

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:19 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
A letter in the July 23, 2013, Tomahawk Leader:

How very interesting when Shopko needs financial help to come into Tomahawk, an area thus far avoided by the retailer, TIF District funding is “found.” When the Fourth Street Bridge was deemed unsafe, grant money was “found” to not only fix the bridge, but improve the road from Dairy Queen to Highway A. Now, the final blocks of Fourth Street are being “improved,” and the City Council is placing a burden of special assessments to 31 property owners along the corridor.

As a property owner, I find this distressing. We all use those four blocks at one time or another. I shop at OK Printing, Dollar General, Family Dollar, JB’s and of course, Beking. This is a case of “we’re in this together.” Just how much more would my tax bill go up if we split the $305,000 amongst all property owners in the City of Tomahawk? I can understand that new lateral connections might be the cost of the individual property owners, but all of it? Based on their road frontage?

Don’t you think that Dairy Queen, Bridge Inn, Chuck’s, Aquatic Arts, Town & Country Realty, Tomahawk Sports Center, Silverado, Nelson’s County Market, Snap Fitness, Ben Franklin, Four Seasons, Holiday Gas Station Scaffidi’s, H&S Service, Steigerwaldt’s, Pops Feed Store, Subway, Viegut’s, Ace Hardware, Tomahawk Foods, Auto Haus, Park City Credit Union, Tomahawk Family Restaurant, River Valley Bank, BP-McDonald’s, Heritage Chevrolet, Dog n Suds, Tomahawk Flooring, Wholesale Carpets, Magic Jo’s, Re-Max, Generations Funeral Home, McCandles Properties, LLC, Northwoods Community Realty, Tomahawk Warehouse Liquor, Calhoun’s Auto, Erv’s Sales & Service and all the other businesses on North Fourth Street who got their road improvements for nothing would jump at the chance to assist their “shop local” pals?

The City learned there was “no money” available before the first shovel was put into dirt. That four-block improvement could have been delayed while the issue was discussed with all of us instead of letting Bob Lee, Don Nelson, Brian Viegut and Roger Schlegel and the rest vote in favor of dumping this $305,000 debt to the 31 property owners.

Come on, be fair. This smells.

Sally Peterson
Owner of two rental properties in the City of Tomahawk

Re: We’re in this together

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:35 pm
by tooten
Where was the uproar when the city fathers rezoned my unimproved water frontage from agriculture to multi-family and doubled the assessed valuation on my land without a word from me? That must have been one of those "we're all in this together" things referred to by the letter writer. Given the logic of those Fourth Street property owners, since everyone uses or benefits from the rivers flowing through Tomahawk I should be entitled to one heck of a refund.

Dave Ruten
Jersey City

Re: We’re in this together

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:29 pm
by Renee class of '80
I have to agree with the first poster. Everyone uses the road, and the entire home owner's in the city limits should be tax assessed and divided equally, not just the 31 people who are in front of the construction and have to be burdened with the cost, noise and inconvenience to boot. It is a city issue, not an individual issue. I do not think the 31 individual people's property values will increase by this construction, so how can they justify making each person pay for something that benefits all?
As far as Dave's post and re-zoning his land on the river, it just increased his property value whether he likes it or not. It went from "unimproved" to now "buildable" zoned, and anyone on the waterfront knows that when they decide to sell or build will make a lot more money and the land more valuable. Not everyone in Tomahawk uses the river, has a boat, so comparing private land ownership rezoning on the river to a main road that everyone uses is not even comparable.

Re: We’re in this together

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:11 pm
by Kerry Tobin
If I remember the original news story correctly it pretty clearly pointed out the city said revenue limits imposed by the state prevent them from raising taxes more as they would have in the past, which is why they put the new policy in place before it was known there weren't going to be funds for this project. And let's not forget that something like 80% of the cost was covered by other sources, including raising everyone's taxes.

In other words, all those who supported Walker a few years ago have no one to blame for this but themselves... Sucks when you're on the short end of the stick doesn't it?

Re: We’re in this together

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:37 pm
by Renee class of '80
Worst States for Property Taxes

The Tax Foundation found that homeowners in these states paid the most in property taxes compared to home value. The percentages represent the percentage of home value that homeowners pay in property taxes.

New Jersey - 1.89%
New Hampshire - 1.86%
Texas - 1.81%
Wisconsin - 1.76%
Nebraska - 1.70%
Illinois - 1.73%
Connecticut - 1.63%
Michigan - 1.62%
Vermont - 1.59%
North Dakota - 1.42%

I really do not see what WI does with it's tax money to be the 4th worst (highest) in the country when the majority of the state is private rural farming, and little "upkeep or improvements" on the rest. I do not believe anyone's taxes should be raised, but dig into where all the money is and has been going for years and years. (State, Federal and Property taxes) Compared to other states that have to support a lot more on much less, and this seems to be a big mystery. If it is all funneled into Milwaukee, Madison and leaving nothing for the rest of the little towns to improve even the roads, something needs to be done. I believe your local congressmen need to start earning their positions and incomes and fight for what you all deserve and pay/paid into for years and years and get nothing back. Just sad that these 31 homes or businesses must carry this burden when already overtaxed as is, and then scrape up this money on top when in essence everyone will be using the road. I guess the end result will be more people leaving the state looking for better opportunities, lower taxes, better weather, and then the people left will be paying even more for the ones leaving because they can no longer afford to live there with no benefit. Seems like a slippery slope when there are much greener pastures out there.

Re: We’re in this together

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:45 pm
by Kerry Tobin

Slight problem with your statistics... First, Madison contributes far more to the state in tax revenue than it gets back (City of Madison anyway). Second, you pulled a statistic that only compared property taxes, not taxes overall. Each state makes money in different ways. Some tax income higher, others have significant taxes on anything with wheels, others charge more in sales tax and some have other revenue sources (Alaskan oil for example).

Wisconsin uses property taxes to cover most local expenses such as the community costs and schools. Income taxes go to the state. Due to the revenue caps many communities are talking about significant possible cutbacks. I've heard other communities in the Tomahawk area do not believe they will have the money to maintain many of their roads and may have to convert them to gravel to reduce costs, etc.

When you look at all taxes per capita Wisconsin ranks 11th highest. If you look at the amount of money collected per capita Wisconsin is 17th. Total revenues (which includes taxes, fees, licenses, etc.) we drop to 22nd. We also get less money from the federal government as a percentage of our total revenue than most other states... ... ff2013.pdf

Re: We’re in this together

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:51 pm
by buckybear
To get away from the clear left-wing/right wing divide that plagues the board and back to the original issue at hand.

My question on this whole matter though, is the legality of the City Council's decision (which to my understanding, and I will admit any inaccuracy is purely my own, occurred after they themselves dropped the ball on acquiring outside grants/funding for this project by failing to submit the proper paperwork on time) to tax private property owners.

Based on what I have gathered in Wisconsin's Municipal Statutes, taxation to property owners for private road improvement/maintenance, is expected and understood. But this is a public road, as already acknowledged, and essentially the primary means of traversing the City of Tomahawk. It appears to me that the city is arguing that this is a private road owned by these thirty-one property owners. When, to my best knowledge, it is not.

Also, based on what I have heard, if these citizens do not pay the said charges for the improvements it will be added to their property taxes which, essentially, makes Kerry Tobin's statement that the city was unable to raise taxes almost seem negated as that is what will happen to these 31 individuals.

If someone can kindly point out where it is legal for a city council to confer public debts for street/right-of-way improvement to specific private property owners (in state statutes) without a referendum and/or some kind of vote, I would much appreciate it. And I would be welcome to be proved wrong for that matter to dispel my feeling that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark" with the Council's actions.

Because to me this is (and a ridiculous hypothetical argument admittedly) like proposing that the residents that live directly around the school should have to pay for the improvements/expansions, because they live in the nearby vicinity, despite the fact it is used by everyone in the surrounding area.

Re: We’re in this together

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:23 pm
by Kerry Tobin
Page 4 discusses Special Assessments (which are not part of the normal tax caps).

And I believe the street repair portion of the job was covered by property taxes. The special assessment is for utilities (which would directly benefit those businesses, as water and sewage tend to be requirements). I could be wrong on that, but I think that was how the breakdown worked out.

Re: We’re in this together

Posted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:04 pm
by buckybear
-tips hat- Thank you kindly for sharing. Much appreciated.