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NEWS STORIES

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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MERRILL - A local technical college wants to make sure first responders get all the training they need.

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First responders can use the car to learn how to handle derailments and crashes.

NTC leaders think Merrill is a good place for the rail car.

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Brian Fisher, 35, was in court Thursday. He faces multiple felony counts of recklessly endangering safety and one count of having a gun as a convicted felon.

Police say Fisher shot his gun at 36-year-old Morgan Sykes on July 8th at It's Our Clubhouse bar. They say they used video from a surveillance camera to identify Fisher in the shooting.

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A parent on Wisconsin waters jumps in to try to rescue their child, who is in the water without a life jacket. But the parent, also not wearing a personal floatation device (PFD), drowns, even if the child survives.

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Reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward were killed.

Police say a former reporter Vester Flanagan killed them.

Vicki Gardner, the woman being interviewed was hurt.

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TOMAH - The troubled Tomah Veterans Administration Medical Center will be making changes to address staff shortages.

The VA will be temporarily closing hospital's 11-bed inpatient psychiatric unit.

It has stopped admitting new patients.

The VA's Matthew Gowan believes the two patients currently in the unit likely will be discharged before the September 4th closure.

Any veteran requiring psychiatric treatment will be transferred to VA facilities in Madison and Milwaukee, or to non-VA hospitals.

Tomah VA Medical Center also plans to suspend psychiatric admissions to its residential long-term care facility until additional staff are hired.

The nursing home will continue admitting veterans with non-psychiatric needs.

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(Copyright 2015 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)

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