Monday, August 09, 2010

Add $350K To the ChooChoo Bill

Seems that even low-speed rail can't pay its bills.

Just two days before the City of Milwaukee was to foreclose on the downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station, the state stepped in Monday and paid $341,461 in overdue property taxes, interest and penalties, city and state officials said.

As a state-owned structure, the depot - officially called the Milwaukee Intermodal Station - ordinarily wouldn't be subject to property taxes. But the building at 433 W. St. Paul Ave. is leased to a private developer, Milwaukee Intermodal Partners,

...and they didn't pay up.

But there's a REASON: State of Wisconsin incompetence.

...Scott Mayer, the former president and still minority shareholder of Milwaukee Intermodal Partners, said the state didn't pass the bills along to the company until they were already overdue. City Attorney Grant Langley said that was an issue between the state and the company, not the city's problem.

Jambois said the bills sent to the Administration Department weren't passed along to the DOT, either. For 2010, the city has changed the billing address from an Administration Department post office box in Waukesha to a DOT office in the station.

Or maybe there are two reasons. Who knows?

Mayer also says the assessment was too high, not taking economic conditions into account, but the company didn't learn of the assessment until it was too late to appeal. He says city assessors agreed with the company's position by slashing the assessment nearly in half, to $3 million for 2010.

The station is to be a key hub for the planned $810 million high-speed rail line connecting Milwaukee to Madison, as an extension of the Hiawatha that eventually could serve the Twin Cities. Trains are to start service at 79 mph in 2013 and reach top speeds of 110 mph by 2015.

A great start to the Doylet Line.

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