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County Board says no to impact fees

A resolution supporting a state law change to allow school districts to assess impact fees on new houses died a quick death on the St. Croix County Board floor last week.

Supervisors voted 20-4 against the resolution, which was proposed by the Hudson Area Intergovernmental Advisory Council, a local association of government representatives.

Wisconsin law already allows counties, cities, villages and towns to develop and collect impact fees, but funding for facilities owned by school districts is specifically excluded.

"It's a tax, a tax on a new house," said Supervisor Daryl Standafer, North Hudson, who had opposed the fee when the Finance Committee voted on it earlier. "I think this is the worst of taxes."

There is no correlation between new houses and new students, said Standafer. He said many of the people who build new homes already live in the county, but may be moving from an apartment to a house or from a starter house to a more expensive one.

An impact fee would likely price people out of the district, said Standafer, who called the fee "ill-advised, anti-competitive and discriminatory."

The only votes in support of the fee were cast by Hudson-area supervisors Buck Malick, Ron Raymond and Joe Feidt, and Stan Krueger, Somerset.

In other state legislation-related issues, board members:

  • Called for an audit of the statewide voter registration system.

    The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires each state to develop a single, centralized, computerized statewide voter registration list. Wisconsin contracted with Accenture LLP to develop and support a voter registration system tailored to Wisconsin law.

    But the system has a number of problems. According to the resolution adopted last week, "the (local) duties were substantially understated and the cost to St. Croix County is more than expected."

  • Went on record as opposing the Wisconsin Taxpayer Protection Amendment. St. Croix County has the seventh lowest property tax levy of the state's 72 counties.

    The Taxpayer Protection Amendment would limit a county's levy rate to the rate of inflation and the growth in population. According to the resolution, "such limitations would endanger all non-mandated services, including those that are designed to prevent utilizing more expensive services, to the residents of St. Croix County (including alternatives to incarceration)."

    The resolution adds that local officials are directly accountable to voters and can be removed from office by local voters.

  • Asked for state legislation to prohibit people from getting fishing and hunting licenses or registering ATVs if they owe delinquent fines.

    Supervisor Mark Erickson, Hudson, said this technique has been very successful in collecting delinquent child support.

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