Mayor of Madison Says Expense for Cities Too High

March 25, 2015 2:34 PM

Charges State Has "Squeezed" Local Governments From Both Ends

Madison – Mayor James R. Law of Madison charged before the 40th annual convention of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities here today that the state has "squeezed" local governments from both ends.

"The state has added to the list of mandatory expenditures required of every city, but at the same time has clipped the city's tax base, so that it has relatively less property upon which to levy taxes," said Law, blaming the state for much of the local property tax burden.

Principal business before the league convention today was formulation of a program for submission to the 1939 legislature and election officers.

Law told the municipal officials that the record shows that cities and villages have been unable to cut property taxes because of mandatory expenses loaded upon them by the state and county legislative bodies.

"If the legislature was required by constitution or by statute to raise the money itself every time it added expenses for the county or city, the legislature would be reluctant to approve the increased expenditure," he said. "There would be fewer promises and far less spending. City officials would not have to sit with their fingers crossed, wondering how many more expenses every session of the legislature would add to the city's budget."

Law urged that all city departments, boards and commissions, as well as all city employees, bring pressure on the legislature to provide some means of tax relief to local municipalities.

"If we do not soon find some way to correct these inequities, we will be faced with higher property tax rates," he maintained.

F.G. Wilson, superintendent of cooperative forestry for the Wisconsin Conservation Commission, told the convention that Wisconsin leads all states in the acreage of community forests, with 1,750,000 acres owned by 25 counties and 10,720 owned by school districts.

Clarence E. Ridley, executive director of the International City managers' Association, outlined methods of preparing municipal reports to citizens in another address before the convention.


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