A proposed amendment to the state constitution could pave the way for mergers and consolidations of municipalities and school districts in Wisconsin. State Representative Scott Newcomer says the amendment would allow local units of government considering a merger to blend their mill rates. “All this is, is a tool that allows them to do this,” Newcomer told the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Homeland Security. “It’s not a mandate, doesn’t force them to do it. It give them that opportunity, if they so choose to merge a city, town or village together, they can blend that mill rate together over a 12 year period of time.”
Ed Huck with the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities says right now, there’s little incentive for mergers, if residents of one community have a much lower tax rate than the prospective merger partner. “We’ve go to do something different,” Huck told committee members. “This is out of the box thinking that would allow us to become more efficient and more effective than we are currently in the state of Wisconsin. We’ve got to get out of the 19th century. This will help us do it.”
Communities considering mergers include the Town and Village of Verona in Dane County, and the Village and City of Pewaukee in Waukesha County. The amendment would have to pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature, and a statewide voter referendum.