A resolution calling on the state legislature to enact a one percent sales tax in Milwaukee County to fund a new NBA arena Downtown – as well as other recreational, cultural and transit needs – will get a committee hearing on Monday, sponsor Ald. Robert Bauman said.
"State lawmakers have called on the city and the county to come up with a contribution to the arena funding package, but we lack the tools we need to contribute on the scale they expect of us," Ald. Bauman said. "A one-cent sales tax would help complete the funding puzzle without putting an undue burden on our local governments, while also providing revenue to support other important institutions."
No sales tax may be enacted without action by the state legislature. Ald. Bauman’s resolution in support of such a measure, file #157925, will be heard at the next meeting of the Judiciary and Legislation Committee on May 4 at 1:30 p.m. Media coverage is invited.
With an affirmative vote, it would then proceed to the full Common Council for approval.
At 5.6 percent, Ald. Bauman said Milwaukee County’s current sales tax is among the lowest of comparable metropolitan areas. He noted that many other municipalities use a sales tax to fund recreational facilities, cultural institutions and transit services, and Oklahoma City is a foremost example of a city where an NBA arena was supported through a sales tax.
"Previous referenda, the Public Policy Forum and the Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force have all identified a need to better fund these institutions," Ald. Bauman said. "If state lawmakers desire, they can give Milwaukee County residents an opportunity to decide whether the Bucks are worth keeping by making approval of a one-cent sales tax contingent upon a countywide referendum."
Alderman Bauman’s resolution also calls on the legislature to create a new arena authority and assume responsibility for the state-owned Bradley Center’s demolition, disposition and existing bonds.