Milwaukee County Exec Targets New Tax for American Family Field Repairs

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A Milwaukee County executive is hoping for more flexibility in how money from a new tax is used in order to free up funds to put toward extensive renovations needed at the Brewers' American Family Field.

According to the local CBS affiliate, David Crowley is pursuing changes to how a recently enacted sales tax increase can be used, and he's do so at the request of Democratic leadership in the state legislature. 

"We proposed technical changes to the Act 12 language to allow us to use sales tax dollars to further reduce our structural deficit," Weathersby said. "And provide more financial flexibility for Milwaukee County to provide a local contribution [to stadium repairs.]"

The tax increase, which will bring Milwaukee Country's sales tax from 0.5 percent to 0.9 percent, effective Jan. 1, will generate about $80 million per year in additional revenue. 

Crowley's communications director, Brandon Weathersby, said state law currently only lets that revenue cover pension obligation bonds. While Crowley would like to use the sales tax money to pay off additional types of pension-related debt, the flexbility would allow other dollars to go toward renovation at American Family. However, Weathersby said that funding stadium repairs was not a top priority. 

"We aren't proactively trying to find a local contribution on this item," Weathersby said.

The Brewers' current lease runs through 2030, and the team has the option of extending that lease through 2040. A study commissioned by the team estimated the ballpark will need $428 million worth of renovations by 2040.

Back in July, five Milwaukee city council members — alderman Jonathan Brostoff, alderman Lamont Westmoreland, alderwoman Larresa Taylor, alderman Mark Borkowski and alderman Russell Stamper II — on Wednesday said they will not approved spending any city money on repairs at the Milwaukee Brewers' American Family Field. 

"With Gov Evers’ months-old proposal to use part of the state’s surplus to fund $290 million in needed repairs to American Family Field all but dead, we want to change the expectations’ trajectory for the funding in a fundamental way. We believe firmly that NOT A DIME of the funding should be footed by City of Milwaukee taxpayers,” the aldermen said in a statement, according to WTMJ.

Evers' proposal to use $300 million in taxpayer to upgrade American Family, as part of Wisconsin's most recent budget, died on the vine after republican opposition to the plan. 

The alders want the Brewers to raise the money from the private sector, use some of the team's own money, and put the rest on credit. 

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