2006 Approved Resolutions
Whereas, cities and villages bear the full cost of assessing properties within their boundaries for property tax purposes; and
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, urges the Legislature and the Governor to enact legislation establishing a fair method of sharing the cost of property tax assessment between all of the taxing jurisdictions within a municipality by requiring all taxing jurisdictions to contribute a proportionate share towards such costs.
Be it Further Resolved, that a copy of this Resolution be sent to the Governor of Wisconsin and legislative leaders.
Whereas, the State of Wisconsin imposes on municipalities a quota for "Class B" (intoxicating liquor) licenses that limits the number of such license that a community can issue; and
Whereas, such restrictions on the number of "Class B" liquor licenses interferes with local control and the free market system, can hurt the economic development of the community, and represents a relic from the days of Prohibition that has outlived its usefulness.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, hereby urges the Legislature and the Governor to enact legislation repealing the quota on "Class B" liquor licenses.
Whereas, the State of Wisconsin depends on our nation's rail infrastructure to keep its economic engine running strong; and
Whereas, the economic benefits of coal for power production are threatened by the increasingly lower quality and higher costs of rail service and by the impacts of railroad mergers; and
Whereas, the rail industry has consolidated since 1980 from more than forty Class I major railroads into seven; with four of those handling 90 percent of the nation's total rail traffic, resulting in approximately 35 percent of the nation's rail traffic now being captive to a single rail supplier; and
Whereas, many electric utilities in Wisconsin that own coal-fired generation are "captive" to one rail carrier for their coal shipments resulting in the inability to negotiate the terms of their rail transportation contracts in an open and competitive market; and
Whereas, many Wisconsin manufacturers and agricultural producers normally transport commodities -- such as coal, grain, forest products, and chemicals -- that cannot be shipped economically by truck or other means; and
Whereas, major Wisconsin employers like the paper industry are experiencing not only steep cost increases to transport forest products, but unreliable service as well; and
Whereas, agriculture is highly dependent on transportation to move products to markets and some grain shippers have seen their rail costs more than double; and
Whereas, without competitive rail transportation, electric utilities, and the communities and consumers they serve, will continue to experience higher energy rates than necessary for coal transportation and for electric service; and
Whereas, our nation's rail transportation system should be robust and efficient and provide options at reasonable rates for all shippers;
Now, Therefore Be It Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, supports coalitions such as Consumers United for Rail Equity (CURE) and BadgerCURE whose goals are to make the legislative and administrative changes necessary to increase competition in the freight rail industry and assure customer protection from non-competition pricing practice; and
Be It Further Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities supports federal pro-consumer legislation such as H.R. 2047 and S. 919 which create stronger rail customer safeguards, and U.S. Rep. Mark Green's H.R. 3318, the "Railroad Antitrust and Competition Enhancement Act of 2005" and U.S. Senator Herb Kohl's S. 3612 which would eliminate railroad's antitrust exemption, and urges all of Wisconsin's Congressional Delegation to support these important bills; and
Be It Further Resolved, that copies of this resolution be forwarded to Wisconsin's Congressional Delegation, the Governor of Wisconsin, and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Whereas, over the years, numerous state task forces have concluded that Wisconsin's system of organizing and financing local government has not sufficiently evolved and is in need of reform; and
Whereas, state policymakers have generally ignored these recommendations and failed to adjust and modernize our system of financing local government; and
Whereas, the potential dissolution of the Florence School District may be the first in a long line of other local disasters, unless state policymakers make major reforms in the way we finance schools and local governments in Wisconsin.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, urges the Legislature and the Governor to work with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities, and the Wisconsin Counties Association to develop and enact proposals fundamentally reforming how local government is financed in this state.
Be it Further Resolved, that copies of this Resolution be sent to the Governor and legislative leaders and that members of the League be encouraged to adopt a similar resolution locally.
Whereas, not only do non-profit associations providing housing to the poor but also independent living facilities providing high end housing to affluent seniors claim the property tax exemption; and
Whereas, the tax shift that occurs annually as a result of the tax exemption applicable to independent living facilities providing high-end senior housing is over $7.5 million in the City of Milwaukee alone; and
Whereas, in 1970 residential owners paid 50.6% of all property taxes in Wisconsin; and
Whereas, in 2006 residential owners pay 70% of the total property taxes in Wisconsin; and
Whereas, the Special Committee on Tax Exemptions for Residential Property recommended legislation, 2005 Assembly Bill 573, narrowing the exemption applicable to residential property owed by benevolent associations; and
Whereas, the legislative proposal has the effect of placing independent living facilities serving affluent elderly on the property tax rolls.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, urges the Legislature and the Governor to enact legislation similar to the Special Committee's proposal, AB 573, during the 2007-2008 legislative session.
Whereas, the provision in state law encourages discharged officers to extend the payment period with requests for unexplained extensions of the appeal process, and
Whereas, the City of Milwaukee has expended $2 million over the past 10 years compensating officers who were appealing termination from their positions making these funds unavailable to pay for on-duty officers, and
Whereas, the majority of these officers are not reinstated to the police force through the appeals process, and
Whereas, Milwaukee taxpayers value their police services and want as many police officers on the street as possible rather than using funds to pay officers who are not on the job because of termination, and
Whereas, 2005 Assembly Bill 599 and 2005 Senate Bill 307 were introduced last legislative session to eliminate the requirement for Milwaukee to pay police officers while appealing their discharge but the bills failed to advance.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, in conference assembled on October 12, 2006 urges the Legislature and the Governor to enact legislation during the 2007-2008 session that eliminates the requirement that Milwaukee pay discharged police officers while they are appealing their termination.
Whereas, some examples of this double taxation are county sheriff patrol services, planning, and zoning administration; and
Whereas, the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor have recognized the inequity of property taxpayers paying twice for certain services and state law currently allows municipalities to opt out of paying the county levy for library services and public health department functions; and
Whereas, double taxation means that city and village property taxpayers are subsidizing property taxes for those towns who rely upon the county for services; and
Whereas, the subsidy paid by residents of many cities and villages contributes to the disparity between urban and rural tax rates; and
Whereas, the elimination of double taxation may encourage consolidation of services and result in cost savings for property tax payers.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, urges the Governor and Legislature to enact legislation exempting city and village taxpayers from paying property taxes for sheriff patrol services, county zoning and planning, and other services the county does not provide to residents of the city or village.
Whereas in some parts of the state, particularly the Southeast, soaring health care costs exceed the national average; and
Whereas constantly skyrocketing health care costs are consuming more of municipal budgets and making it impossible for municipalities to continue to provide the same level of services while holding the line on property taxes; and
Whereas ever spiraling health care costs negatively impact the state's economy; and
Whereas the state's response to the health care cost crisis has thus far proved inadequate and ineffective; and
Whereas, the League supports both the Wisconsin Health Care Partnership Plan, introduced last session as Senate Bill 698, and the Wisconsin Health Plan, introduced last session as AB 1140.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities in conference assembled on October 12, 2006 hereby urges the Governor and state legislature to work together with local governments and the private sector to develop a comprehensive plan for addressing the health care cost crisis in Wisconsin.
Whereas, three examples include:
- The procedure municipalities must follow under sec. 66.0307, Stats., to enter into a state approved cooperative boundary agreement is cumbersome and time consuming. If the process were easier and less time consuming, perhaps more communities would use it.
- Allow a municipality to use volunteers or contract with a private party or another governmental jurisdiction for service delivery without having to bargain that decision or its economic impact with employee unions.
- Current state law prohibits a city or a village from combining public safety services within its own jurisdiction. Indeed, it is questionable whether a municipality can even place its separate police and fire departments under the command of a single chief.
Whereas, last legislative session the Legislative Council Special Committee on Municipal Annexation recommended compromise legislation updating and improving state laws governing boundary agreements which was introduced as 2005 Senate Bill 460; and
Whereas, The League supported this legislation but it failed to advance; and
Whereas, various governors and state legislators have urged municipalities to consolidate services; and
Whereas, municipalities recognize the savings and efficiencies that can result in reducing duplication of services through consolidation but are thwarted in their efforts to consolidate services by archaic laws.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, urges the Legislature and the Governor to identify and remove all legal impediments discouraging intergovernmental cooperation.
Whereas, cities and villages are concerned about the number of properties that are exempt from paying property taxes; and
Whereas, this number continues to grow as various organizations purchase or expand their property holdings or the Legislature enacts laws creating new exemptions; and
Whereas, many of the institutions located on tax exempt properties, their clients, or members often require or utilize high cost city and village services including police protection, fire protection, and emergency medical treatment; and
Whereas, payment of a service fee by the owners of certain tax exempt property is a fair means of reimbursing city and village property taxpayers for some of the services that are currently provided at no cost to tax exempt properties; and
Whereas, the owners of these tax exempt properties currently pay for other public and private services provided by various units of government and corporations including sewer service, water service, telephone service, natural gas service, electric service, cable T.V. service, mail service, and solid waste and recycling service; and
Whereas, allowing tax exempt properties to avoid paying for municipal services places an unfair financial burden on residential property owners and others who do pay property taxes;
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, hereby requests that the Governor and Legislature cooperate to adopt legislation allowing municipalities to charge service fees to tax exempt entities in order to more equitably distribute the costs of providing police protection, fire protection, and emergency medical treatment services to tax exempt properties.
Whereas, campaign spending by candidates for state office is constantly rising, and large special interest groups play an increasingly dominant role in financing election campaigns; and
Whereas, special interest groups that contribute to campaigns often have disproportionate access to public officials at key times in the lawmaking process, and
Whereas, Wisconsin's current public finance system is severely underfunded and is providing only very small grants; and
Whereas, these small grants neither give candidates incentive to accept spending limits nor relieve them of the obligation to raise funds from monied special interests;
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, hereby urges the Legislature and the Governor to enact legislation to reform the current system of political campaign financing by guaranteeing public grants to candidates who accept spending limits, with grants guaranteed at 50% of the spending limit;
Be It Further Resolved, that the Legislature and the Governor are urged to enact legislation requiring full-disclosure of all funding sources for independent advocacy advertising.
Whereas, such high costs discourage business expansion and job creation in Wisconsin municipalities and burden individual citizens with high costs and the fear of losing health insurance coverage; and
Whereas, in Wisconsin an estimated 10% or approximately 565,000 people are without health insurance; and
Whereas, local governments have a hard time controlling their budgets due to runaway healthcare costs; and
Whereas, despite the steep escalation in health insurance costs the State Legislature, which does have the power to remedy this situation, has failed to seriously consider comprehensive healthcare reform; and
Whereas, skyrocketing healthcare costs are a result of changes in the healthcare and insurance markets that are beyond the control of municipal government; and,
Whereas, the following advisory referendum question is an effective way for municipalities to determine whether citizens believe that the Governor and Legislature should take action on this important issue next session:
Should the Wisconsin Legislature pass a bill by 2008 that will assure access to quality and affordable healthcare coverage for all Wisconsin individuals and families?
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities in conference assembled on October 12, 2006, urges municipalities to place the question set forth above on the ballot as an advisory referendum question.
Be It Further Resolved, that the League of Wisconsin Municipalities urges the Governor and legislature to enact legislation, such as the Wisconsin Health Care Partnership Plan, 2005 Senate Bill 698, or the Wisconsin Health Plan, 2005 Assembly Bill 1140, to ensure quality and affordable healthcare for all Wisconsin workers.