Rhinelander city administrator suggests city look for new ways to get moneySubmitted: 06/17/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson

RHINELANDER - Rhinelander's City Administrator thinks the city relies too much on property taxes. Blaine Oborn presented his findings to the City Council last week.

Taxpayers in Rhinelander pay a little more than $750 in property taxes on average each year.

In Antigo, taxpayers pay a little more than half of that, while Merrill residents pay more than $500 on average in property taxes. Both of those cities have almost double the taxable residential property compared to Rhinelander.

"We're overly dependent on property tax and we have low to moderate income people. We have a high daytime population. Our commercial industrial even though we have a strong base here, is not contributing enough to really bring that down," Oborn said.

He says government spending isn't the issue. The City of Rhinelander's spending is $95 per capita compared to Antigo's $115 and Merrill's $119 per capita.

Oborn says Oneida County collects nearly $4 million in sales tax each year. He believes half of that revenue comes from Rhinelander. But the city doesn't get any of that money.

Rhinelander accounts for more than 30% of all trade area sales.

"When you talk about trade area, our trade area goes into Vilas County and up into Upper Michigan, and then Forest County and the counties to the west of us, too," he explained.

Oborn believes the city should look at retail to draw in more money.

About 7,800 people live in Rhinelander. But during the day, there are more than 14,000 people in the city.

"During the daytime, our police and our fire get busier. Our roads get used a lot and so that has an impact on the services that we have to provide," Oborn said.

He believes the city could bring in more money by increasing fees.

One option the city's considering is having the fire department charge people involved in crashes.

He also thinks the city should consider a premier resort tax. That's an extra half cent tax charged at tourism-related businesses.

Oborn thinks it could bring in between $300,000 and $800,000. The extra money would be used to improve infrastructure in the city.

"If you go to a hardware store, they wouldn't have to charge the extra tax. But if you went to a department store or a sporting goods store, that's considered more tourism-related, then they would have to collect the half cent in sales tax," Oborn explained.

The Department of Revenue decides which businesses must charge the tax. The state legislature would have to approve the tax for Rhinelander.

Then it would most likely go to a referendum.

Lake Delton, Wisconsin Dells, Bayfield and Eagle River have Premier Resort Taxes.

You can see a chart of the revenue from the premier resort tax at the link below.

Related Weblinks:
Premier Resort Tax Distributions

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RHINELANDER - A family-favorite pastime of hitting the movies after Thanksgiving dinner could take a bit of a hit this year.

Rouman Cinema in Rhinelander saw steady business early Thursday afternoon.  "The Hunger Games" finale drew the most movie fans to the early showings, but bad weather and the Packers game could mean smaller crowds at night.

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EAGLE RIVER - Every northern county in Wisconsin will make an effort to increase deer populations until 2017.

That was recommended by the County Deer Advisories Committees.

"Deer hunting stays the same," County Deer Advisories Committee Chairman for Vilas County Ken Anderson said. "Hours of sometime boredom interrupted by moments of shear adrenaline rush and I still get that adrenaline rush when I see that buck."

Anderson shot his first buck on public land in Vilas County 56 years ago.

"10 pointer, north of Star Lake in the Bear Springs area in those high oak ridges and everyone says well you're done now, you might as well quit," said Anderson.

He didn't quit. He's hunted in the Wisconsin deer season 58 years in a row. He bought his 40 acres of land in Eagle River in the 1970s. Now he's the chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and CDAC in Vilas County.

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RHINELANDER - Many people share a meal and conversation with family and friends on Thanksgiving, but some people could miss out if they have to work or don't have family nearby. 

To help out people who are in that situation, North Country Vineyard and Grace Foursquare Churches delivered free Thanksgiving meals Thursday.

Volunteers packaged meals Thursday morning and started delivering them around noon.

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RHINELANDER - Most people have a yearly tradition when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving. For one Rhinelander restaurant, giving back to the community has been a tradition for a decade.

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ANTIGO - A pair of turkeys likely destined for someone's Thanksgiving dinner table will instead live out long and happy lives thanks to their daring escape.

The turkeys were in a truck headed down Highway 29 in Wausau Sunday morning. Their crate fell off the back of the truck and onto the highway.  Another driver called police, but somehow the birds weren't hit by cars.

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RHINELANDER - On the day before Thanksgiving, many people simply refuse to cook.

So they do the next best thing and order out something cheap and easy: pizza.

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WAUTOMA - Authorities say they've found a person involved in the fatal shooting of a hunter near Redgranite in east central Wisconsin.

Gregory Welk of Mount Morris was shot just before sunset Monday while he hunted on his land. The 56-year-old was able to call 911 and gave investigators some information before he died at the hospital.

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