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.
RHINELANDER - Hodag Park received a sizable donation Thursday morning. New sand was dropped off to help the Rhinelander Parks Department grow the beach back to its original shape.
There were thousands of pounds of sand dropped off and spread out. There was a high need for this because of all the rain we've had this season.
"It was getting in pretty poor shape and washing out more and more, but this year especially, it just seems like we've lost a lot of sand. So now we're going to shape it up nicely and hopefully it'll last the year," said Rhinelander Parks Director, Jeremy Biolo.
All of that sand was donated and delivered by a company in Rhinelander.
"Musson Brothers, Inc. donated all the sand and they said we could help ourselves to as much as we want, which is unbelievable because this beach really needed some work," said Biolo. "Every little bit like that helps our community out and it improves the community. It's awesome that the Musson Brothers stepped up and would do that for us."
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