(Madison) State Representative Mark Born spoke to the Beaver Dam Common Council Monday night about shared revenue and possible relief for municipalities in the next state budget. Born says shared revenues have held steady in the past decade that he has been in office.
Mayor Becky Glewen asked the Beaver Dam Republican to address the matters with the council on the state’s tight revenue limits with the property tax levy, resulting increases in municipal debt and decades of decreasing shared revenue.
“Shared revenues haven’t gone down in the last ten years but,” she says, “they have significantly dropped since the year 2000.”
Glewen estimates a “compounded number of $9-million dollars” that Beaver Dam would have received if shared revenue did not drop below what was seen 23 years ago. She says that forces communities to borrow, driving up debt.
Born, who co-chairs the state’s powerful budget-writing committee, says he is hopeful there will be opportunities for shared revenue reforms in the next state budget.
“What’s being proposed is really a major reform that would bring a lot of new money into shared revenue but would also bring a new formula and new expectations,” he says. “I think from a legislative perspective there are several things that make members of the legislature reluctant to just put more money into shared revenue. One is that the old formula just sends a lot of that money into big cities, and we watch our rural areas – especially smaller villages and towns – just struggle more and more. So, we want to look at something that has a bigger splash in the long term.”
Under the state’s Uniformity Clause, the formula used to distribute money to local governments needs to be applied evenly, meaning that larger cities like Milwaukee may see millions of dollars while smaller villages – as Born puts it – would barely be able to buy a case of beer. He is hopeful that a formula in the spirit of sparsity aid, which is directed to schools in smaller communities, could target relief in smaller municipalities. Born is cautiously optimistic that the Democratic governor may support Republican proposals for distributing shared revenue.