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Waukesha County will likely oppose arena tax

Dec. 10, 2013

Waukesha — The Waukesha County Board Executive Committee Monday passed a resolution recommending opposition of a regional tax to finance construction of a new arena in Milwaukee. The County Board will next take up the issue at its meeting Dec. 17.

The resolution was unanimously passed by the committee against imposing a tax that could be similar to the one for Miller Park Stadium. There has been speculation this regional tax could be extended to construct a new venue.

Resolutions similar to the one passed Monday have been passed by county boards in Racine and Ozaukee counties.

Waukesha County officials said they had not seen any information or financial figures that would imply a new arena is needed or what it would cost.

Waukesha County Board Chairman Paul Decker in an interview Monday said those who support a new arenad did raise the possibility of extending the Miller Park .01 percent sales tax. Decker reportedly said he and County Executive Dan Vrakas are opposed to extending the tax.

Milwaukee County has created a task force that will meet for the first time Friday. The 48-member Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force will spend a year reviewing capital needs for cultural and entertainment institutions throughout the region. It will then come up with recommendations. Nothing has been formally suggested regarding a push for a regional tax.

Extending the sales tax would be difficult. The tax must first satisfy all outstanding financial obligations to pay off the Miller Park stadium debt. And the state Legislature would have to pass new legislation.

Milwaukee County Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said Monday that, in her view, Milwaukee County voters in 2008 voted on a measure to beef up funding for parks, transit, paramedics and to lower property taxes. The advisory referendum was approved by a margin of 52% to 48%. Then-County Executive Scott Walker opposed the measure.

One will be at the Milwaukee Public Museum on Jan. 6, and the other will be at the Cafe Calatrava coffee shop at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Jan. 7.

— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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