The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Mercer to decide on PRAT tax in Tuesday election

 

April 2, 2021



MERCER, Wisc. — Town of Mercer voters will decide whether or not to pass a half-cent consumer tax to pay for roads and infrastructure spending in an Election Day referendum on Tuesday.

Voters may choose yes or no to the ballet question, “Should the Town of Mercer levy 0.5% (one half cent on the dollar) sales tax on tourist related retailers, as described in Wisconsin State Statute 66.1113(1)(d) to pay for transportation and public safety infrastructure?”

The question posed is a proposed Premier Resort Area Tax (PRAT) that Mercer is eligible to utilize as a municipality with at least 40% of its equalized assessed property value in use by tourism-related retailers. A tourism driven municipality at less than 40% must have a PRAT request authorized by the state legislature.

The town board approved placing the PRAT measure on the ballot, noting that more outreach was needed to explain how PRAT would work and what it would be used for to try and avoid a second rejection by the voters. Voters rejected a similar measure in 2019. The PRAT is a consumer tax plan that is designed to share the burden of roads and infrastructure costs with the seasonal visitors and part-year residents that far outnumber Mercer’s population of approximately 1,445 residents.

The cost of tourism related sales would be 50 cents per $100, with the goal of reaching $12,500 in annual sales per capita to acquire the $250,000 needed for roads and infrastructure, according to John Sendra, town board chair. The remaining options are to increase the property tax increase to $52 per $100,000 of valuation, or $125 annually for a $250,000 home, or to take out transportation loans, he said.

Mercer has 95 miles of paved roads and 159.4 miles of total road miles to maintain, which is second in the state only to Minocqua with 160 miles of roads, Sendra said. State transportation aid levels remain constant and additional funding is needed for approximately $250,000 in annual road related costs, or an estimated $2.3 million for the town’s five-year roads plan.

Concerned residents at community meetings addressed concerns to ensure that PRAT funds are dedicated as described and not used for other purposes.

The state Department of Revenue lists complete details of what may and may not be taxed and what funds may or may not be used for at revenue.wi.gov. Sendra invited calls and emails for questions or other input.

 
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