Town of Paris discusses County Tax Options

The future for Paris property owners appears that they will be paying at least a portion of their Kenosha County property taxes, but determining a plan that is fair to all has become difficult for Town Board members to decide.

About a dozen residents turned out for a special board meeting last night where Chris Geary, of Pruitt, Ekes and Geary, one of the Town attorneys listed several options for the Town.

Historically, the Town of Paris has relied upon income from the Waste Management Pheasant Run Landfill on the southwest portion of the town to pay for all the property owner’s county taxes each year, as well as covering all of the town’s expense. While property owners still receive an annual tax bill, they are required to pay only school and state taxes.

Tipping fees from Waste Management led to a $22 million surplus over the years, enabling the town to cover county property taxes, as well as town expenses. However, increases in Wisconsin tipping fees have diminished the volume of garbage received from Illinois, which was a large part of the landfill’s business.

Currently, income from Pheasant Run has dropped to approximately $32,000 per month, which is enough to pay the town’s regular expenses, including the library tax, but not enough to cover the $1.1 million in property owners’ county taxes.

Some options suggested by the Attorney Geary were:

• Paris could pay a flat amount of the annual county tax per parcel

• Taxes paid per type of property—residential vs. commercial or industrial

• A percentage based approach with or without a cap

Additionally, the town’s current policy in paying all of the county taxes enables the highest value properties, such as businesses like Pheasant Run to receive the largest overall benefit.

Resident Robert LaBell suggested a separation of the type of tax paid by property owners as some businesses pay both standard property tax as well as personal property tax, and the town pays the county portion of that tax.

“The payments under the current policy is not fair,” he said. “The top five parcels in the town gave $96,000 which is 10 percent out of 858 parcels. Some of these top five also receive personal property tax bills of a large amount. If you put a $1000 per parcel maximum on payments then half of the property owners would have their county taxes paid in full, and the town would save $350,000. A flat payment of $2000 would cover 90 percent of the parcels. To make a fair decision on what to do, you need all of this data in front of you and develop a tax payment policy for future supervisors to follow.”

In addition, LaBell suggested that utilizing town monies to pay county tax bills for large properties could hinder future development in the town, especially along the I-94 corridor.

Resident Gail Gentz agreed, and added that the town does not just need to focus on the present, but for future generations.

“We have to preserve the tax base and part of that is the I-94 corridor because that is where development and industry are going to happen,” she said. Yeah, we have money in the bank, it will cost money to preserve that land, and Paris can preserve that tax base. We don’t want to sit on the outside looking in. We want to be proactive and not reactive and it will take money. We need to look out for the best interest of the town and protect the people here.”

Attorney Geary stated that because setting up a tax paying policy for the town enters into uncharted waters, that certain legal ramifications might occur and suggested that the percentage approach might limit legal issues, over a flat rate plan.

Additionally, with a change in plan, the County Clerk office might need to revamp their computer system especially for the Town of Paris, which would also incur some expenses, perhaps up to $25,000 to get a new system in place.

To bring more property owners into discussion, the board will send a letter to all property owners in the town next week with outlined options. They will be invited to attend another meeting at 7 p.m. on June 26 to discuss options and listen to residents’ ideas. The board plans to have a new policy in place by fall in time for the next property tax bills.

 

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11 Comments

  1. resident says:

    Mr. LaBell is taking a lot of heat in the Kenosha News for his comments. However, all of his comments make sense. And, why was he really the only person at the meeting last night with any “real” information. Why wasn’t the Town Board as prepared as him? As it is right now – the wealthier in the Town get the largest tax break. Isn’t that what people all over the United States are complaining about right now? The rich getting richer?? A flat dollar amount would serve the residents of this Town much better than anything else. That way, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a $150,000.00 home or a $500,000.00 home. If someone can afford a $500,000.00 home, then, they can afford the taxes that go with that home.
    It’s going to cost $25000.00 to get a new system in place with the County? That $25000.00 could go to help pay taxes. The Town Board really has to think about what will benefit the Town – not just the businesses in the Town. The businesses aren’t voters – the people are.
    What is Mrs. Gentz suggesting? Buying up all of the land along the corridor? The Town of Paris doesn’t have sewer or water. Or, is that coming next?
    According to this article, none of the town board talked – were they even there? Where is their opinion?

  2. County resident says:

    I have always wondered why the town paid the county taxes at all ? I think that it appropriate that the town should not levy a tax to fund the town when they have or had a cash cow like waste managment, but to pay the citizens county share i thought is just wrong. That is stepping out of their relm of responsibilty.

  3. Northwestern Mike says:

    Mr. LaBell had one comment written about his proposal. Another comment was directed at Deneen Smith for only quoting Mr. LaBell when others also commented at the meeting. That’s a lot of heat?

    The town supervisors had many things to say. One was even quoted. What story are you reading?

    There was a good conversation going on, but only one resident was quoted.

    So with your flat dollar amount, if a resident owns a shack and pays little county tax he should get the same amount as someone that pays thousands of dollars of tax. Have you heard the term equalized property values? They are done this way to prevent lawsuits. Everyone is treated fairly.

  4. resident says:

    Mike, you have to remember that many of the residents in Paris have been residents since before the dump was here. Many of us have paid lots of taxes already without the dump money. When the dump started paying taxes, many people bought land in Paris and built very expensive homes figuring they would never have to pay taxes – well, now it’s their turn. My family’s been here since the late 1800’s – just how long have you live here? Have you ever had to pay your County taxes while living in Paris?

  5. A Nuther Resident says:

    Nothing beats a hubub in the Duchy of Paris! I built a big expensive house and paid cash for it. When the taxes go high enough, only the wealthy will be able to live here. I’m in no particular hurry for that day to arrive, but it will bring in some much-needed new blood.

  6. whatever says:

    Why is the fact that your family has been here since the late 1800’s relevant? Does that confer upon you some sort of special privileges that the rest of us should be denied because we don’t have such august family connections? The fact that your ancestors paid taxes to the town is irrelevant to the situation today. Your assertion that people bought land in Paris thinking they would never have to pay taxes is nonsensical. Obviously you feel that Paris has been invaded by outsiders who had the temerity to buy land and put up a house that you judge to be too big and expensive. I am amazed at the provincial mindset and hostility displayed by members of the old Paris clan toward any new blood.

  7. resident says:

    Nope – not inferring that the “old Paris clan” pay any less on the tax bill. I was simply stating a fact. If the Town board decides to have all residents pay a percentage, then, so be it, but then, it should be property owners that actually live in the Town. And quite frankly, I don’t feel that Paris has been invaded by outsiders – I’ve been an advocate for years to open up residential development in this Town. Unfortunately, the town has felt otherwise. In the past, before we started getting money for the dump, taxes in Paris were very high. Just recently, when the school was asking for money to keep afloat, people were complaining about the Paris teachers being the highest paid in the County, per student population. Well, maybe when the residents start paying more of their taxes, people will also pay closer attention to the town’s budget – right now, the Town is one of the smallest towns in southeast Wisconsin, but the Town has the highest paid clerk; the highest paid Town board members; and better fire equipment than the City of Kenosha. When the dump money is gone, who do you think is going to be paying all of these expenses? This is the future that the town needs to look at. People everywhere are tightening up the purse strings – not the Town of Paris – they’re opening the wallet all the time.

  8. A Nuther Resident says:

    Maybe when the people of Paris start paying the county tax they’ll also start to pay attention to how much the county is spending.

  9. resident says:

    Very true!

  10. A Nuther Resident says:

    To “whatever’s” point, though, I too was a little tweaked by your comment about people building houses here expecting that they’d never have to pay taxes. It was a gratuitous slap. As a (relative) newcomer, I have experienced some of the hostility directed at those who weren’t born here. (Provincial was a brilliant description!) My reaction to your response to Northwestern Mike was pretty much the same as whatever’s, I just wasn’t as eloquent (or as mature). When we moved here, my children went to the Paris school, and the early days were very unpleasant. It’s long behind us now, but the bad taste lingers.

  11. Nothing new to see here. says:

    Two thirds of the board needs to go for sure. They have been sitting on their hands for years and years. The tax issue has been talked about for a couple years and especially late last year. Now it seems like they just want to get it over with. I am glad Mr. Monson is already on record as feeling like making any decision will probably not happen tomorrow night. What’s the big rush to get input and make a decision on an issue this big in two weeks? It takes them months or longer to make the simplest decisions some times. This is a pretty big one. They should have had an input meeting back in January or February.

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