RACINE COUNTY — A group of Racine-area legislators are fighting the county’s Miller Park sales tax to the bitter end.

Eighteen years after the taxing district was created to pay for the construction of a new Milwaukee Brewers stadium, local lawmakers have proposed a bill removing Racine County from the district.

The measure is mostly symbolic. State Rep. Cory Mason, who also brought the proposal forward in 2011, said the issue is seen as a regional one and hasn’t gained much traction in the Legislature.

“It’s difficult to build broad support for it,” said Mason, D-Racine, whose first political activism was protesting the tax in 1996.

But the debate over how much southeastern Wisconsin counties should be involved in Milwaukee sports stadiums has received renewed attention as the Milwaukee Bucks explore ways to finance a new arena.

The fear for Racine County leaders is that the Miller Park district could be extended for the Bucks, said state Rep. Thomas Weatherston, R-Caledonia. Such a move would require state legislation.

“What Cory and I both worry about is if (the taxing district) continues, and there’s a new basketball arena, we’re going to be paying for that,” said Weatherston, who is also sponsoring the bill. “Enough is enough.”

The bill is also co-sponsored by state Sens. John Lehman, D-Racine, and Bob Wirch, D-Somers.

In 1996, the state Legislature approved a 0.1 percent sales tax to help fund construction of the new Milwaukee Brewers stadium, which opened in 2001. The sales tax was put into effect for five southeastern Wisconsin counties — Racine, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington.

State Sen. George Petak, R-Racine, who cast the deciding vote, was famously recalled. But the tax remains, bringing Racine County’s sales tax up from 5 percent to 5.1 percent.

Mason argued the stadium has “little to no economic benefit” in Racine County. He said he would rather see that Racine County money go toward property tax relief and “let the remainder of the district figure out how to extricate themselves” from the tax.

He also noted the retirement of the tax district has been pushed back to between 2016 and 2020. Earlier projections had the tax ending in 2014.

“I think it’s a fair question for Racine residents to ask” how long the tax will continue, Mason said.

Mike Duckett, executive director of the Miller Park stadium district, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Racine County has come out strong against paying for the Bucks arena as well. Though a regional tax has not yet been proposed or even seriously discussed, the County Board unanimously passed a resolution opposing such a tax, and legislators of both parties have taken strong stances against it.

(18) comments

orchardtown

If Racine is going to pay a tax for the Bucks then build the arena here in Racine on the vacant lakefront site. Let Milwaukee pay the sales tax to have the Bucks stadium here. Or build it in Kenosha on the casino site.

Joe Taxpayer

Queen - while I don't agree w/ Kohl's ideology or personal life decisions, he's been a great owner doing his best in a small market. He's invested a lot of his own money into the franchise and there's talk of him putting up $100 mil of his own.

Queen

The moment the bucks signed Larry Sanders they lost my support. Sanders getting injured in a bar brawl reinforced my choice.
Despite their claims, the bucks bring nothing to the table. Kohl should have let go a long time ago. Instead he wants to double down, with our money.

B

What's the difference. You almost have to take out a home equity loan to afford to go to a game. Especially when we have 5 boys. However we go to lots of wave games (soccer) and man is it a blast. Tickets are cheap and full of action. We barely miss a game. Oh and the crowds are usually kid friendly since most fans aren't all lit up

sue-frank

Better yet lets take the money and fix the Roads!

tansandy
tansandy

Do we really need the Bucks? Having accomplished only 1 win in the month of Jan. what an embarrassment!! The Bucks are following in the owners senate career, lack luster and ineffective at best! Let the millionaire Kohl pay for the arena, and let the players kick in some of their millions, but no taxpayer dollars. If they want to leave so what. I'll help pack all the basketballs!!

crazycatladyofcaledonia

Raise the ticket prices. Oh wait... there aren't enough fans buying tickets...
I want to renovate my house so I think all of southeastern Wisconsin should pitch in. It doesn't matter that none of them will even see the inside of my house. I deserve it

americanwarrior

FINALLY GOT TO SAY I SUPPORT THE JOINT PROPOSAL BY MASON AND WEATHERSTON. NO MORE WELFARE FOR MINI ME DETROIT.

HorlickGrad89

I remember when I bought my first car. Had to pay the "stadium tax" on it. We have had to pay this tax for 18 years, yes, enough is enough. Make sure Milwaukee is paying that stadium tax before Racine since that is where the stadium is. And if they expect people to pay for a new stadium for a Milwaukee basketball team that sucks, I have a few choice words there. You pay all of these players millions of dollars to "play a game". Well if they want somewhere to play their game, then they can pay for it. I bust my butt every day just to make ends meet and live paycheck to paycheck. I can barely afford to go to a baseball game. I don't care if it is only .1% tax. To some it is very little, but it adds up after a while.

Xright

here here

OJOSA

And where will it stop? Already they want to extend it to 2016-2-2020 because they can't get used to doing without all that extra money. 2014 came up fast, and now they want to continue to suck us dry and find more things to build for their entertainment. I say the same as everyone else....who can afford to go to a game anymore? Who cares if the Bucks stay or go somewhere else? They haven't amounted to much of a team. If they want to play their game, let them pitch in and foot the bill. Or better yet, let Kohl do it. It's his team! If I wanted to renovate my house, I betcha none of the Bucks nor Kohl himself would help fund my project.

Xright

My Bucks tirade goes to any sports team looking for a new arena, pay for it yourself! I don’t force you to put gas in my car to get to work. How about this, new tax, the Xright Tax, lets tax overpaid sports figures .01% on their purchases’ and use it to make up for the Gas Tax that is absent as we drive less with more fuel efficient cars. Hey, they are looking for a solution to the deficit in that fund, I think I got it nailed!

Xright

If the Bucks want a stadium let the player’s who make the millions pay for it. Tax payers If the Bucks want a stadium let the player’s who make the millions pay for it. Tax payers don’t pay for the building I work in, why should I pay for theirs. Kohl is just waiting for a new arena then the bucks will be worth something as they don’t bring no excitement in the form of Basketball. Let them players invest in their own future. I feel the same about Miller Park, never been there and don’t plan on it as I despise paying for it. BTW 18 years ago it was a 10 year tax. I knew it was never to leave EVER. When has a tax gone away? This really is nothing more than political positioning.

Even More Tired

bye bye!

JT fact checker
JT fact checker

Cory is all over this 0.1 sales tax levy. Totally absent on property taxes.

ggodmuls
ggodmuls

Come on guys, Herb "The Dairy Queen" Kohl (D) has suffered the ignominy of having to play second fiddle to the Brewers and watch his team be regularly humiliated in a second rate facility long enough! Open your hearts and wallets to the Milwaukee Bucks ! Aspiring High School multi-million dollar future NBA players are depending on you!

The task force studying “cultural needs” and downtown arena funding in Milwaukee is extending an olive branch to county boards outside Milwaukee that already oppose their communities financially supporting a downtown Milwaukee arena. Jay Williams, who is co-chair of the Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force, said Feb. 19 that he and other task force leaders plan to invite elected officials from those counties to a future task force meeting. He made the remarks during a lightly-attended task force public-listening session. Task force members want to learn more about why those county boards oppose funding a possible new downtown arena and “have a discussion both ways.”

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2014/02/20/cultural-needs-task-force-extend-olive.html?page=all

Save Our Bucks! * The Bucks are in the process of trying to secure financial and political support for a new arena. However, over the past decade the team has faded from the public interest because the team roster and results have been uninspiring to the local fan base and community

http://saveourbucks.com/executive-summary/

Of course, Racine could always fight fire with fire! Maybe Downtown Racine needs to get organized and demand the support of a regional tax to "Save Our Boaters"! Racine can't sit by idly and let Milwaukee have everything! It's only fair. Come on Cory! Racine Boaters need the support of a regional tax!

A Jelly Doughnut

Mason is for property tax relief? That's a good one. You had me there for a minute. Very funny

Joe Taxpayer

See you later, Bucks!

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