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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

High taxing/spending Franklin City Hall in damage control

It happens all the time.

When people learn I reside in Franklin, they gasp. The stunned reaction is unanimous. It normally sounds like this:

“My God, man, how can you afford those taxes?”

Franklin is a tax hell. And you don’t have to live here to comprehend that fact.

Last month, the Franklin Common Council on a vote of 5-1 with support from Mayor Tom Taylor adopted a 2.6 percent property tax levy increase during a recession when taxpayers are facing salary and benefit cuts, job losses, and foreclosures. We who pay the bills were lectured that this tax and spending increase was “responsible.” In other words, keep your mouth shut, accept it, and pay your bill on time.

Just a few weeks later, could it be that a case of the guilts has descended upon City Hall?

At the request of Mayor Taylor, an informational report has been compiled for Tuesday’s Franklin Common Council meeting entitled: “Comparison of Municipal Property Tax Rates and Other Municipal Charges.” The intent is crystal clear. The report, prepared November 30, is to be used as ammunition in defense of the recession property tax levy hike.

The Mayor, the report states, asked for the analysis “to address whether or not Franklin has high taxes compared to other communities. It further claims, “Franklin has very low municipal property taxes when compared to other Milwaukee County communities, and when other municipal special charges are considered, Franklin fairs (sic) even better.”

I’m sure that comes as great comfort to Franklin taxpayers who will be brimming with exuberance when they get their annual Christmas present from the city in the mailbox later this month.

City staff analyzed the assessed property tax rates for all 19 Milwaukee County communities and then applied the 2009 Aggregate ratio of Assessment to those rates to determine an equalized property tax rate for each community. The Franklin reports states, “Franklin has the third lowest rate with 13 of the communities exceeding Franklin’s rate by more than fifty cents per thousand dollars of equalized value and nine of those communities exceeding Franklin’s rate by more than $1.00 per thousand dollars of equalized value..”

The report then makes this bold claim:

“From this perspective, Franklin clearly has very low municipal property taxes when compared to other Milwaukee County communities.”

Another key point of the report is that other communities impose “special charges” for services. Franklin does not assess a special charge for garbage collection, recycling, or storm water utility.

Finally, the report asserts, “Franklin’s equalized municipal property tax rate is one of the lowest in the County. (The special charges in other communities) clearly solidifies Franklin’s position as a comparatively low taxed and charged community.”


This analysis is not convincing and, quite frankly, flawed.

The report emphasizes tax rates, a common ploy of the tax and spenders. The tax rate is meaningless. It’s the property tax levy that’s important.

I urge you to read this blog that offers more details and explanation.

So, don’t talk to me about tax rates. Talk to me about levies and then I’ll listen.

Also, I’m not sold by an analysis that compares our tax hell to 18 other tax hells.

The timing of this report, just a few weeks after a property tax levy increase was adopted, is also suspect. If this is supposed to make taxpayers feel better about our fiscal condition, shouldn’t this report have been done and announced prior to action on the city budget last month?

All this PR spin will do is make the taxers and spenders feel good about what they’ve done. It does nothing for the taxpayers.The time to help taxpayers was at budget time, not two weeks later.

I get no satisfaction from this report, am not buying it and I don’t think you should, either.

Finally, I challenge the editors of this website to pose the following as the next poll question on the home page:

"Do you agree with the City of Franklin Department of Administration that Franklin has a solid position as a comparatively low taxed and charged community?”



UPDATE: Franklin blogger Bryan Maersch has posted the entire report.

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