Bill to Fix Future Loss of Utility Aid

Bill to Fix Future Loss of Utility Aid
Posted on 11/22/2019

On Thursday, November 21, Governor Tony Evers signed Assembly Bill 235 into law, as Act 45, which affords Wisconsin municipalities a way to recover lost state utility aid revenue due to a decommissioned power plant. 

Pleasant Prairie receives $1.6 million in utility state aids annually for the WE-Energy Pleasant Prairie Power Plant and other facilities. However, in April, 2018 the plant closed threatening a significant source of revenue for the Village. While the plant is not officially decommissioned, once it is declared, the State utility aid payments to the Village will be stepped down by 20 percent, or approximately $320,000, each year for five years. The revenue loss of $1.6 million equates to nearly 10% of the Village’s general operational budget. The decrease in funding represents a shortfall equivalent to 14 firefighters, or 14 police officers, or 90% of the Village annual road maintenance budget. 

Prior to the law change, there was no solution to recover the lost funds. Act 45 allows the Village to increase the tax levy by the amount state utility aids incrementally decrease. Implementing this new law removed uncertainty and will enable the Village budget to remain stable and maintain current service levels. 

For the taxpayer, adding $1.6 million to the levy over 5 years would be equivalent to a 55 cents increase in the mill rate, 11 cents per year. The nominal tax impact this would have on the median residential homeowner would be a $26 increase per year, or $131 at the end of five years.

“The Village has always been extremely conscious of the taxpayer, and consistently maintained a mill rate under $5.00, currently $4.27,” said Village Administrator Nathan Thiel, “While this legislation allow us to adjust the levy, it is the Village’s intent to use tools like TID closures and debt restructuring to reduce any negative impact the taxpayer might see.” 

The Village would like to thank sponsors of the bill, Representative Samantha Kerkman and Senator Van Wanggaard. Other important supporters of the bill were County Executive Jim Kreuser, Senator Bob Wirch, Representatives Tod Ohnstad and Tip McGuire, and Governor Tony Evers, who signed the bill into law. 

“This was a bipartisan effort that will help ease a significant financial concern for the Village,” said Thiel.

Village representatives in attendance at the bill signing were Village President John Steinbrink Sr., Village Board Members Mike Pollocoff and Mike Serpe, Village Administrator Nathan Thiel, Finance Director Kathy Goessl, and Fire-EMT Joe Olszewski.

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