Monday, December 12, 2005

Maybe Miller Park Will Be Paid Off

But at this point in time, nobody really knows. Another chapter in the Department of Revenue's sales-tax problem unfolds:

The Miller Park stadium district, which receives the proceeds of a tenth-of-a-cent sales tax from residents in Ozaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Milwaukee and Racine counties, has had a drop in those collections.

Mike Duckett, the district's executive director, said Friday that, from 1997 through 2002, collections went up an average of 7.9%. Since that time, the district has experienced an average decrease of 0.6% a year.

Coincidentally, or not, those decreases began to appear at the same time the state installed the new computer system.

"You can draw your own conclusions," Duckett said.

So far this year, sales tax collections in the five-county district are $2 million less than projected. In fact, in eight out of the last 11 months, district sales tax collections have dropped below forecasts.

In response, Engan said the drop may be a reflection of reduced economic activity in the five-county district.

The district hopes to retire that tax by 2014, but Duckett said the new numbers - assuming they are correct - might change the sunset year for the tax.

Of course, it's also possible that the Stadium Board will buy all kinds of hot new Stadium Toys for the Brewers (you know, like advertising devices), which will delay the end-date of the tax for another several years.

We'd also like to remind our Northern Wisconsin friends that THEIR legislators voted to impose this tax on SE Wisconsin residents. Keep that in mind as you chant 'The Sky Is Falling' due to the end of gas-tax indexing.

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