If Mayor Barrett used TIDs Wisely, Poverty Would Fall, Property Tax Relief Would Rise

By Robert Miranda, Editor, Spanish Journal

Chris Johnson, Editor/Publisher, KINGFISHmke.com

Here is a basic breakdown on how much residential property owners could save per year if Mayor Barrett, along with the City of Milwaukee Common Council, would terminate TIDs #49 and #56 instead of shifting these revenue streams to finance the downtown streetcar:

  • Revenues to streetcar from donor TID #49: $ 9.7 million Source: TID #49 2013 Periodic Report
  • Revenues to streetcar from donor TID #56: $19.2 million Source: January 7, 2015 LRB Letter
  • Total revenues from both donor TIDs: $28.9 million

  • Number of households in the city of Milwaukee: 228,000 Source: 2013 US Census Bureau

  • Potential property tax relief: $28.9 million/228,000 = $126 per household

This potential property tax relief has one gargantuan hurdle that makes it difficult to see realization however, and that hurdle is called “political will”.

For city of Milwaukee property taxpayers to realize any property tax relief from the termination of TIDs #49 and #56, the five taxing entities: City of Milwaukee, MPS, MATC, Milwaukee County, and MMSD would individually have to agree to return these revenues back to the taxpayers.

This would require a type of leadership that the City of Milwaukee has not experienced for a long time, not from the Mayor’s office or the Common Council for that matter.

The type of leadership we need would be able to resist the status quo and proceed to reform Tax Incremental Finance (TIF program).

Mayor Barrett has failed the city by not utilizing TIF in the manner that it was designed to be used. The downtown streetcar serves as the latest example of squandered TIDs being used to build his train, which will only serve an extremely small segment of the city.

Nine members of Common Council could have provided economic relief in depressed areas of Milwaukee, but instead, they choose to support building a train that at best mimics public transportation needs and at worst, will become the city’s most expensive albatross.

Mayor Barrett’s downtown streetcar TIDs could have provided a shot of economic adrenaline towards helping depressed areas in Milwaukee. Thus creating new revenue streams from once tax dead zones, created and nurtured because of increased property value these TIDs could have created, hence contributing to Milwaukee’s overall tax needs.

Creating these new tax based revenue streams could provide property tax relief for Milwaukee property owners. This is a good thing.

We also agree that TIF revenues used correctly can provide quality jobs and pay for needed services for Milwaukee families and neighborhoods. Without question, TIF is a key to helping the city increase property tax receipts. However, using TIFs to hijack money from revenue-strapped taxing entities to build the downtown streetcar is unfair and unwise.

TIFs should be used to fund and support new manufacturing businesses, robust job creating entities and the development of affordable housing in depressed communities that will improve the city’s economy and help reduce tax burdens on property owners of Milwaukee.

It is inappropriate to use TIFs as an ongoing source for funding outside of the budget process for Mayor Barrett’s pet projects, like the downtown streetcar; this is was morally wrong of him. It continues the cycle of taxing without any sight of property tax relief and maintaining poverty in Milwaukee.

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on March 13, 2015

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