Alders consider exceeding tax levy limits

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.

Tell city officials Safety First!


About David Blaska

Madison WI
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6 Responses to Alders consider exceeding tax levy limits

  1. Bill Fetzner says:

    Has anyone explained, with specificity, why bus rapid transit (BRT) is needed or worth the cost, or both? From what I read in the Journal, it might save riders who travel relatively long distances between the east and west sides of Madison, about 13 minutes. First of all, who are the riders who live on one side of town and need to travel at any time of day to the other side? What’s wrong with assuming that they can drive themselves (or car pool) on freeways around the city? Or have an express bus route on freeways to parking lots at edges of the city? How does ripping up the city for express bus routes that involves new traffic lanes, removed parking spaces, interference like trains do with auto traffic, to allow buses to whiz by going to be cost effective?

    Liked by 1 person

    • David Blaska says:

      One word answer: No.


      • Bill Fetzner says:

        I take that response to mean that the city hasn’t conducted or commissioned a study of why BRT might be needed or how it might be best implemented. Nor have we been acquainted with it by some other competent authority, such as a federal agency or another municipal jurisdiction that has already implemented such a thing. If none of that has happened, why should we believe that federal funds might be available for anything having to do with this concept?


        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          @Bill Fetzner;

          “I take that response to mean that the city hasn’t conducted or commissioned a study of…”

          Perhaps the well was dry after they retired the sum total of Madison’s indebtedness to the $400 Large MPD study, which, it should be noted, didn’t do much more than fill a few Lefty’s pockets while draining those of local taxpayers.

          With all due respect, if you aren’t from these parts, how long have you been around?

          The reason I ask is because for those of us who’ve had the…um…pleasure to dispassionately observe the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality, (which not only lists its official bird as the Plastic Pink Flamingo but came within a whisker of renaming Bassett St. Hồ Chí Minh Trail), this comes as no surprise.

          Our Fair City has long foolishly flitted, like a moth to the flame, toward municipal projects that have visible, if ethereal, benefits and hidden, unenumerated costs.

          While the better nature of sanity prevailed with some of the stupidest (trolleys, inclusionary zoning, mandatory sick leave, etc.), the We Know What’s Best For You crowd hasn’t gone away…nor will it.

          Glass half full?

          We’re not Portland Crazy…yet!

          Keep your powder dry!

          The Gotch


  2. A Party of One says:

    The alders have already shown us how to get around the levy limit problem: the wheel tax!
    If they need more, I suggest a lug nut tax instead. That would give them at least 16 individual taxes on small cars, 20 on larger cars and SUVs, and up to 32 on large pickups! How progressive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

      @A Party of One;

      “The alders have already shown us how to get around the levy limit problem”

      If It Keeps On Rainin’ The LEVY Levee Gonna Break!

      The Gotch


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