- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - A plan to return excess revenue from a 15-year sales tax to renovate and maintain Lambeau Field could be a windfall for Brown County’s cities, villages and towns.

An estimated $17.6 million could be left over after the county’s half-percent stadium sales tax ends on Sept. 30. Republican state Rep. David Steffen of Howard wants to return most of that money to individual municipalities and use some of it to redevelop the Brown County Arena.

“This money is transformative, it’s game changing, and it provides a great opportunity for community leaders who are behind me and those throughout the communities to do some great things in coordination with the people,” said Steffen at a news conference on Tuesday.

The lawmaker’s proposal calls for the distribution of about $13.2 million to the county’s municipalities and the remaining $4.4 million to the stadium, WLUK-TV (https://bit.ly/1Lj8t8B ) reported.

Money given to the municipalities would be based on population and could be used for property tax relief, debt reduction or economic development. For example, Green Bay would receive about $5.5 million, while De Pere would receive about $1.2 million.

The Brown County Taxpayers Association supports Steffen’s legislation because it lets municipalities decide what to do with the money, according to association president Richard Parins.

“Hopefully they would reduce public debt, and keep taxes down as a result,” he said. “They may not. They may choose to have some pet project.”

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt already has been brainstorming ways the city can use the extra revenue money.

“Through our housing programs to attract and retain college graduates,” he said. “This could be the catalyst money, some of the money, to really get Bay Beach back to a beach. And then we’re looking at some enhanced lighting pavers to continue the growth of our downtown.”

Other communities in Brown County, including Ashwaubenon, plan to discuss potential uses in the coming months.

If action isn’t taken, the excess sales tax revenue could sit in a state account for 16 more years.

A public hearing on the measure likely will be held in Madison next month, Parins said.

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Information from: WLUK-TV, https://www.fox11online.com


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