A proposed constitutional amendment could make it easier for Wisconsin school districts and local governments to merge, and enjoy greater efficiencies. One thing standing in the way now is the state’s uniformity clause and the fact that different units of government have different tax levy rates. “They’re both on board, but they have a situation where because of the different levels of equalized values . . . as well as the actual tax rates themselves, the merger itself becomes impossible,” said Milwaukee Democrat, Representative Josh Zepnick, who cited several instances of proposed mergers that foundered on the rocks of differing tax rates.
“This constitutional amendment would amend the uniformity clause to allow some flexibility for these two communities,” said Curt Witynski with the League of Municipalities. The change would allow municipalities to blend their tax rates together, allowing up to twelve years for that to happen. “Ideally the higher one will be reduced a little bit, and the lower community will be increased a little bit,” Witynski said.
The amendment must pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature and a statewide referendum. It passed the state Assembly in the last session of the legislature but failed to advance in the Senate. Zepnick and Witynski testified Tuesday before the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs.