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Miller Park Sales Tax Set for 2020 Sunset

Miller Park 2017

A five-county sales tax backing construction bonds for Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, could sunset in 2020 after a vote this week by the board that oversees the ballpark. 

As part of the funding model for Miller Park, a 0.1 percent sales tax was put into effect in 1996, covering the counties of Milwaukee, Ouzaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha. The tax has proven controversial at times, as at various points receipts were below projected levels. However, favorable economic conditions have helped the numbers trend upward in recent years, and it appeared last year that officials could move to retire the tax as early as 2020.

That timeline is achievable right now in the eyes of the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, which voted on Tuesday to move forward with plans to end the tax by next March. That is contingent upon there not being any significant downward trends for receipts over the coming months, but board members seems confident that the tax can sunset in that time frame. More from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“Assuming no dramatic decline in sales tax receipts, the district will have accumulated sufficient funds in late 2019 or early 2020 to begin the sales tax retirement process,” David Anderson, director of PFM Financial Advisors, said in a report to the board Tuesday.

PFM is the district’s independent financial adviser.

“I think it’s a rewarding day for the taxpayers,” said Don Smiley, chairman of the stadium district board. “I think it’s a good, positive step and something that has been expected for a long time in sunsetting this tax.”

Smiley said he fully expects that the tax will be ended by March 2020.

Technically, there are still some steps remaining until the tax can officially end, including the board’s receival of sales tax distribution for December 2019 or January 2020 and later certifications to the state that construction debt has been covered. It was once thought that the sales tax could sunset 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 far outpace the national economy in terms of growth.

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