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 baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way.
I like Franklin mayor Tom Taylor. I respect him. I’ve worked with him personally on some critical issues and I admire his dedication to the city along and his optimism.
However, he is my mayor, and in the world of politics, he and I won’t always agree. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The inability after months and months of negotiations to land a Meijer store in Franklin frustrated and angered many Franklin residents. A great deal of public criticism ensured, and rightly so. Part of the motivation of the critics is that they desperately want the best for Franklin. They desire advancement and improvement.
After weeks of second-guessing of how Franklin managed to lose the Meijer development, Mayor Taylor didn’t go back to the drawing board. He stated he still believes Meijer could change its mind and come back. There’s that optimism. But it’s optimism based in nothing but wishful thinking.
The mayor went to, according to FranklinNOW, his staff, and requested a report be compiled showing that despite Meijer, Franklin does economic development.
No one ever said Franklin doesn’t do economic development. However, its record is dubious. And the successes Taylor had his staff document are questionable as to how much the city was directly responsible for developments settling here.
This isn’t the first time Taylor has gone to city staff to do damage control when the heat got hot. In late 2010, bloggers objected vociferously to the city and school board jacking up tax levies to perpetuate Franklin’s reputation as a Tax Hell. Here’s what I blogged in December of 2010:
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 report 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.
This Just In…December 6, 2010
I have no problem with Mayor Taylor defending his city when it falls under scrutiny. But I would offer some friendly advice to my friend. Those who object should not be dismissed outright and need to be listened to. They could have something concrete to offer that could help Franklin, dare I say it, move forward.