Unnamed alders are exploring a referendum allowing the City of Madison to blow through state-imposed levy limits, which are designed to hold down property taxes.
City Attorney Michael May on Monday (11-04-19) responded to the alders’ exploration of a Spring 2020 referendum, which was filtered through city budget office officials. He appeared to discourage the idea.
“You indicated some alders were asking about the process to put a referendum before the voters to exceed the state-imposed levy limit,” May wrote. Such a proposal could not be held until next November, May answered.
Although the statute allowing referenda to exceed the levy limit states it may be held at a spring election or a special election, that is not practically possible. The State Department of Revenue has ruled that a municipality must know its levy limit before it can vote to exceed it. Municipalities do not get this information from the State before August of a given year. Since tax bill must be sent in December, the only time for a referendum is in November.
… If any Alders were thinking of sponsoring a resolution for such a referendum, you would need to work closely with the City Clerk to meet those deadlines.
One week from today
As proposed, the $340.4 million operating budget would raise property taxes 3.4% and impose a $40 city wheel tax on each motorized vehicle. The Common Council is scheduled to consider the annual budget Tuesday, November 12. The mayor has proposed no new cops or firefighters, rapid bus transit, and a $200,000 police monitor/overseer/second-guesser.