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Miller Park Sales Tax Could Sunset in Two Years

Miller Park 2017

A once-controversial five-county sales tax backing construction bonds for Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, could sunset by early 2020 if collections keep rolling in at the same rate, based on 2017 receipts.

The sales tax has been in effect since 1996, and at various points receipts were below projects levels. But with the economy improving over the past several years, receipts have rebounded. In 2017, sales-tax revenues were at  $31 million, a 3.14 percent increase from 2016. It was once thought the sales tax could be ended sooner, but it was based on some pretty optimistic estimates of 5.5 percent growth annually — which meant they were expecting the Milwaukee area to outpace the national economy in terms of growth.

That’s giving Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District board, which oversees ballpark revenues, hope that the sales tax could be shut down by early 2020 if 2018 and 2019 revenues remain the same, according to a report issued Tuesday. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

The 0.1% tax can be retired by late 2019 or early 2020, assuming “no significant shift from current economic conditions,” according to the report presented Tuesday to the Miller Park board.

“Given the volatility of monthly sales tax receipts and the unpredictability of interest rates, any further refinement of that estimated range would be impractical and unreliable,” the report said.

The tax repays $290 million in construction debt plus interest for the stadium, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, which opened in April 2001.

Once the construction bonds have been paid off, the district board can petition the state to end the 0.1 percent sales tax in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha counties. The board and the Brewers also make contributions to a capital improvement fund.

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