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Room tax windfall about to dry up PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARK JAEGER   
Wednesday, 16 December 2015 21:19

Village trustees make annual allocation knowingnew state regulations will restrict options next year

In past years, room tax proceeds collected by the Village of Saukville have provided needed financial support to a host of community causes.

The doling out of that money has become something of an end-of-year ritual for the village’s Finance Committee, which makes its funding recommendation to the Village Board.

As village officials reviewed the funding requests this year, it was with the knowledge that pending changes in the restrictions the state places on the use of room tax proceeds will dramatically alter next year’s allocation process.

With a roomful of room-tax applicants on hand earlier this month, Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said the village’s allocation process will likely have to be overhauled.

“I don’t want to be a downer, but there will need to be changes,” Wagner said.

There was already a somber mood in the meeting room, when Village President Barb Dickmann noted that the village received more than $37,000 in requests for funding from room-tax applicants.

The tax — which is generated by a surcharge assessing guests who stay at the Motel 6 — generated less than $31,000 that is available to dispersal.

“How do we get $37,000 out of $30,000?” asked a perplexed Dickmann.

The allocation process was much easier in years past, when the village took in as much as $65,000 from the 7% tax.

Ultimately, trustees agreed to split this year’s room tax money between 10 requests.

The largest allocation was $5,000 set aside for the village’s Fourth of July fireworks display, a favorite cause of the village president.

Again, with an eye toward the summer celebration, officials also approved a $1,000 allocation for the village’s Independence Day parade.

The greatest amount of discussion accompanied a request from the Saukville Area Historical Society for $9,000. The money would be used to help cover heat and lighting-efficiency projects in the coming year.

Society spokesperson Anne Kertscher said the hope is to make the energy improvements as part of ongoing restoration work at the Saukville Crossroads Museum. 

The work is expected to cost $35,000, and would include replacing the museum’s drafty front doors.

“We made great strides on the building over the summer, thanks to a grant from Port Washington State Bank, but unfortunately the doors are so inefficient they have to be replaced,” Kertscher said.

Although Kertscher characterized the $9,000 request as “a drop in the bucket” of the Society’s needs, Dickmann had a different perspective.

“You realize you are asking for almost one-third of our room tax money?” she asked.

An apologetic Kertscher responded, “I am just being honest. I feel terrible.”

A similar $4,000 allocation was approved for promotion of the Saukville Fire Department car show, which is run by the fundraising organization, Friends of the Saukville Fire Department.

Trustees also approved spending $3,000 for village Christmas decorations, replacing some pole-mounted decorations that are more than a decade old.

Other allocations include: $2,500 to help defray the cost of the Saukville Chamber of Commerce renting office space; $1,000 for sponsorship of the Live at the Triangle concert series; $500 for National Night Out, the annual event hosted by the Saukville Police Department that invites community residents to meet first-responders from around Ozaukee County; $500 for the Summer Thunder motorcycle rally to support the fire department; and $100 for the Ozaukee County Tourism Council.

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