By Roger Utnehmer
Sturgeon Bay City Council District 2 candidate David Hayes issued a statement today urging a NO vote on the proposed one-half percent sales tax that will be on the April 3rd ballot.
Hayes says the Premier Resort Area Tax (PRAT), which has been promoted by city officials as a mechanism for funding streets in Sturgeon Bay, can also be used for “infrastructure expenses.” The statutory definition of “infrastructure expenses,” Hayes says, includes recreational facilities, fire-fighting equipment, police vehicles, ambulances and other expenditures.
“Did the city administration purposefully add the ‘infrastructure expenses’ to the referendum so they could continue moving funds, ‘stealing from Peter to pay Paul?’”, Hayes asks in his statement.
Hayes also cites a report from Moody’s Investors Service, a firm that rates the financial stability of municipalities. In earlier remarks Hayes said that Moody’s no longer rates Sturgeon Bay because of the current fiscal condition and debt of the city.
The entire press release from David Hayes is printed with this story at DoorCountyDailyNews.com. The other candidate for the District 2 city council seat is former council member and mayor Robert Starr.
City officials predict the PRAT would raise approximately $800,000 a year. The referendum on April 3rd is not binding. Before the tax could be implemented in Sturgeon Bay the state legislature would have to pass legislation permitting Sturgeon Bay to levy the one-half percent tax.
PRESS RELEASE FROM DAVID HAYES
Sturgeon Bay PRAT Referendum Misleading.
At first glance the referendum question for Sturgeon Bay residents appears rather harmless and a solution to the city’s crumbling roads. Take a closer look, and you’ll see that two words change everything about the small 0.5% levy tax. Those words being “infrastructure expenses”, followed by the statute where you’ll find the definition for infrastructure expenses. When you google Wis. Stats. 66.1113(1)(a) you’ll see that the city is attempting to levy a tax allowing the city to spend the tax income on a whole slew of items beyond the streets.
Infrastructure expenses, as defined in the statute states firstly transportation facilities, including roads and bridges – no surprise, great. However, the definition continues with “sewer and water facilities; exposition center facilities..or other events involving educational, cultural, recreational, sporting or commercial activities; recreational facilities; fire fighting equipment; police vehicles; ambulances; and other equipment or material dedicated to public safety or public works.” If the street levy tax (PRAT referendum) is passed, the projected $800,000 collected per year could be spent on a lot of other things than our degraded roads and streets. Thus putting our road maintenance schedule further behind than it already is. Did the city administration purposefully add the “infrastructure expenses” to the referendum so they could continue moving funds, “stealing from Peter to pay Paul?” – I hope not. I want to trust our city administration, but when I see wording and actions like this, I wonder, do they really have the best interests in mind for the whole community, or are they doing the same old thing, causing the potential downward financial spiral that is referenced in the Credit Score Report from Moody’s. Vote “NO” on the City of Sturgeon Bay PRAT Referendum.