Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Maybe Not In YOUR Lifetime

Pay off Miller Park? Well, maybe--then again, maybe not:

With sales tax revenue continuing to fall below forecasts, members of the Miller Park stadium board are becoming increasingly nervous that they may not be able to retire the stadium sales tax in 2014.

At issue is the 0.1% sales tax that is collected in Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, Washington and Ozaukee counties and the board's stated goal that it wants the tax to end in 2014. The revenue is used to retire the debt on the financing of Miller Park.

Through the first five months of this year, the district has received $9.9 million in sales tax distributions from the state, nearly $1.2 million below projections. Compared with the first five months of last year, distributions are down 0.5%, district figures show.

From 1997 to 2002, the average annual growth in the district's sales tax collections was 7.9%, compared with state growth of 4.7% in the same time period. From 2003 to 2005, however, collections decreased an average of 0.11%. Statewide during that period, average growth was 3.4%.

New here's the clue:

For forecast purposes, the district assumes it can get a 3.5% annual return on its investments and banks on a 5.5% annual growth rate in sales tax distributions

The folks who assumed 5.5% annual growth in sales-tax revenues were, ah, optimistic in the extreme.

Another way to put it: they needed to sell this plan, and they picked ridiculous numbers to get people to swallow it...

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