The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Mercer board holds hearing on proposed tax

 

February 22, 2019



By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

MERCER, Wis. — The Mercer Town Board held an information session Thursday to provide residents with the facts about a proposed ballot measure in the spring election.

Town voters will be asked April 2 to decide whether to approve a .5 percent Premier Resort Area Tax on certain goods and services in the town.

“We’d like people to have the facts. Be armed when you go to vote,” town chairman John Sendra told the audience.

If passed, the measure is expected to generate roughly $200,000 to $250,000, according to Sendra.

The money would be used to repair roads in the town.

“We need the funds. Our roads need help,” Sendra said.

The tax would apply to “licenses, leases and rentals of tangible property, certain coins and stamps, certain leased property, affixed to realty, certain services sold, leased, or rented through tourist-related retailers,” according to the referendum language.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s website, this would include family clothing stores, eating and drinking establishments, miscellaneous apparel and accessory stores, gas stations, liquor stores, sporting goods and bicycle shops, hobby and toy shops, novelty and souvenir shops, hotels and motels, various campgrounds and public golf courses.

The measure is designed to target tourists and those visiting Mercer, Sendra told the Daily Globe after the meeting — a demographic that makes up most of the town’s economy.

“If you take our economy as a whole, it’s 65 percent tourism-generated. All our revenue is 65 percent (consisting of money from visitors),” Sendra said, referencing data created when the town was preparing to pass its room tax. “Nothing has changed, it’s 65-35. … We’re still doing the same thing business-wise we did back then — small, little cottage industries.”

He emphasized how little the tax was on each purchase, making it a relatively painless way for the town to come up with the funds to fix its 159 miles of road.

“It’s one half penny on the dollar,” Sendra said.

Several communities around Wisconsin have already adopted similar measures, according to the information presented at the meeting, including Rhinelander, Eagle River, Bayfield and Wisconsin Dells.

Iron County has started to have discussions regarding instituting its own, county-wide PRAT tax, according to Sendra. As those discussions remain in the early stages, Sendra said Mercer is going ahead with its own plan rather than waiting on the county.

If passed, the town would receive quarterly payments from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue with its funding, according to Sendra, and the legislation creating the PRAT tax mandates it be used for road and infrastructure improvements.

“That’s it, it can’t be used for anything else,” Sendra said.

 
 

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