There’s going to be a discussion at the next West Bend Common Council meeting regarding a regional tax to help finance development in Milwaukee.
The proposal was first pitched by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce in an effort to either renovate or replace the Bradley Center. The idea is similar to the 0.1 percent Miller Park sales tax. That stadium tax is still in place for Washington County and four other counties in southeastern Wisconsin.
“I have been in contact with the mayor and chairman of the finance committee, District 1 Alderman Tony Turner, and I’ve expressed my reservations about the proposed regional tax,” Justice said.
Some of the serious questions, according to Justice, include the effectiveness of the concept and how the city of West Bend or even Washington County would benefit economically.
“The economic impact to Washington County has not been demonstrated and would be difficult to measure and I believe would be minimal,” said Justice. “They’re trying to generate support in five counties but they’ve not identified what the tax would be. Is this a sales tax or a property tax? I think it’s premature to try and generate support for the project when you can’t identify what the actual revenue stream is.”
Justice said possible benefits — regional tourism and putting people in hotel beds, restaurants and in shops — are a stretch for a community that’s 25 miles away from the arena.
“Even if it’s a sellout I don’t see someone venturing out too far from a Ringling Bros. Circus or a Milwaukee Admirals hockey game to go and stay at a hotel in West Bend or even dine in West Bend,” he said.
“During the meeting I’ll be presenting what we know about the proposed tax and see if they want to support it.”
Elected officials in Ozaukee and Racine County have already signed official resolutions against another regional tax.