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Milwaukee County to raise sales tax

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(The Center Square) – Taxes are going up in Milwaukee County.

As expected, county supervisors on Thursday approved a 0.4% sales tax increase.

“Today, the County Board of Supervisors shaped the future of Milwaukee County for years to come by avoiding a devastating fiscal cliff that posed to threaten irreparable harm to our community,” Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said on Twitter. “After years of advocacy, Milwaukee County finally has the additional revenue needed to avert financial disaster.”

Milwaukee County currently has a .5% sales tax, the .4% increase will essentially double the county’s take.

Crowley estimates the sales tax increase will bring-in $82 million next year, or about $6.8 million per-month.

Crowley said the tax increase will avoid cuts to Milwaukee County’s budget.

“Think about our Department of Health and Human Services. Services for people with disabilities, services for seniors, services for our young people,” Crowley explained earlier this week. “We’re not only going to be able to maintain, but we’re going to be able to make investments. As well as our crown jewel, or parks, all around Milwaukee County. As well as our public transit. This is really about putting our community in the best place possible to make sure that we are delivering for all of our residents across the board.”

There was just token opposition to the county tax increase.

Just three of the county’s 18 supervisors voted against the tax hike.

“This sales tax is regressive, and likely to outlive us all, but I’ll continue to fight to ensure that the dollars freed up by it are our towards actual human needs,” Supervisor Ryan Clancy, one of the three to vote against the tax, said on Twitter.

Milwaukee County’s tax increase comes after the city of Milwaukee raised its sales tax earlier this month.

The city of Milwaukee will add a 2% sales tax in January. That tax will be worth nearly twice what the county’s sales tax is worth, or $16 million per-month.

Milwaukee’s mayor said the city’s new sales tax will also avoid draconian cuts. Milwaukee had said it would make serious cuts to its police and fire departments, as well as its libraries without new revenue.

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin cleared the way for Milwaukee and Milwaukee County’s tax increases as part of this year’s shared revenue agreement.

The tax increases, however, come with some sp[ending restrictions. Republicans wanted to ensure that Milwaukee in particular could not use any of its new money on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, or the city’s streetcar.

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