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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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 IN OTHER NEWS

VILAS COUNTY - Earlier this month, legislators put a proposal into the state budget that would take away a county's ability to make its own shoreline zoning regulations. Here in the Northwoods, two counties have come out against that proposal.

If the state budget went through as it's written right now, individual counties and lake associations could lose their power to set zoning regulations. That's a big issue for many in the Northwoods. Vilas County alone has 1,300 lakes. The proposal has caused great concerns.

"The concern was that the proposal had the potential for doing great damage to the environment, had the potential for causing a severe problem as far as assessment procedures, and generally was opposed by the citizens-the residents-of this county," said Chuck Hayes, a Vilas County supervisor.

Vilas and Oneida counties both held board meetings last week. Both counties voted to ask for removal of zoning changes from the budget. They argue the issue of shoreline zoning was never given any time to be discussed.

"At the very least, I think the public should have had a chance to weigh in on this issue that affects the environment," said Hayes. "The counties, the municipalities and individual residents, their opinion wasn't sought on this. It was simply put in."

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 06/30/2015

- Find out how a local group is trying to help the endangered Monarch Butterfly population.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander group wants to protect an endangered butterfly. The Monarch March works to save the beautiful monarch butterflies.

The butterfly is in danger because people remove milkweed from their yards. Milkweed is also removed from public ground spaces as well.

Monarchs need milkweed for food and a place to lay their eggs.

"That's the problem with the monarch; it only survives on milkweed," said Paula Larson, founder of Monarch March. "So every time you cut down milkweed, every time the highway mows down all the milkweed on the sides of the roads, they are killing hundreds of caterpillars."

A major part of the work done by Monarch March is to collect eggs and raise them until they become butterflies. The process takes about four to five weeks.

Leaders of the group believe everyone can do simple things to protect the butterflies.

"Do not cut down milkweed; plant milkweed. It's really good for gardens to become a butterfly habitat," said Larson.

The new butterflies should hatch in about two weeks. An exhibit with the caterpillars can be seen at Curran Professional Park in Rhinelander.

For more information, check out Monarch March on Facebook.

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MADISON - Republican state senators are met behind closed doors Tuesday to talk about the three main issues that have held up passage of a Wisconsin state budget for the past month.

State Sen. Paul Farrow said Tuesday that senators planned to talk about roads funding, changes to the prevailing wage and the $500 million Milwaukee Bucks stadium plan.

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COLUMBUS, OH - A 4-year-old girl who was shot in the leg by an Ohio policeman firing at a dog is recovering after surgery as her family questions how the officer responded.

Columbus police say Ava Ellis was hit accidentally June 19 when an officer fired at a charging dog at a home in suburban Whitehall. Police say another relative had flagged down the officer for help after Ava's mother cut herself on glass.

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FERGUSON, MO - A Justice Department report summary has found across-the-board flaws in police's response last summer to the protests in Ferguson, including antagonizing crowds and violating free-speech rights.

The Associated Press obtained the summary, which cites "vague and arbitrary" orders to keep protesters moving that violated their rights of assembly and free speech.

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RHINELANDER - A local doctor proudly calls the Northwoods his home.

Some of Doctor Greg Michals' life experiences led him to make the decision to become a chiropractor.

"There was these car accidents that I got involved with in high school," Michals said. "It was three of them I got in senior year. Usually I tell people I wasn't driving; I had a poor taste in friends."

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