Washington County Says “Hell, No”

This is a bit fascinating to watch. A little background…

In 1998, Washington County passed a temporary sales tax (I think you know where this is going). There were some major capital projects like at the county jail, courthouse, and UWWC, that the county needed done, but they didn’t have the money. So they bamboozled the public into accepting a “temporary” 0.5% sales tax to pay for those projects. By 2006, those capital projects were all done and paid for, but the County Board decided that they liked their new tax. Instead of killing off the tax as promised, they kept it going and redirected it to other things. Now the county sales tax is just another tax that the County Board uses to spend on whatever it wants.

Fast forward to 2017 and several of the county’s municipalities want a slice of that tax. The argument is simple. All residents of the county pay the sales tax so it makes sense to distribute that tax to several levels of government. The City of West Bend already sent a letter to the city earlier this year. Slinger voted to do the same last night. Other cities and villages are considering doing the same.

Last night, the Washington County Board didn’t just say “no.” They said, “hell, no.

“Based on what you are saying, I think we need to be very clear that — not necessarily that we are denying anything, but that we are declining even considering it,” County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said to committee members.

Well, that’s pretty clear. It is a dangerous business to try to get between a politician and a tax.

On the issue itself, I agree with the county, but only because I have a forlorn hope that the county might someday end the sales tax as they promised when they implemented it. That likelihood, however remote, becomes even more remote if other governments get their hands in that pie.