If the half percent sales tax was only paying for the stadium,the tax would end next year. But that's not how it was set up. Taxdollars also go to the Packers to operate LambeauField and do maintenance work on the stadium. Because of that,the tax will continue for another four or five years.
Remember when Lambeau Field used to look like a green, steelshed? Then came the Lambeau renovation plan. Voters narrowlyapproved a half percent sales tax to pay for most of theconstruction. What voters probably didn't know is what else theywere going to pay for.
"I would venture to say over 99% of the people who voted on thistax had no idea of what the extent of these operating expenseswould be," said Richard Parins, president of the Brown CountyTaxpayers Association .
Since the renovated stadium opened, taxpayers have paid $16million of the sales tax to the Packers to pay part of the costs ofoperating and maintaining the stadium.
Your tax dollars go towards the Packers light bill, heatingbill, water bill. We pay for people to shovel at the stadium.Another place your money goes: police officers and security guardson game day.
"It was always considered as part of the cost of doing thestadium project," said Jason Wied, vice-president of administrationfor the Packers.
The Packers call it a partnership. After all, the stadium isowned by the city. So it makes sense, the team argues, fortaxpayers to pick up a portion of the costs.
"We've always considered it a public asset," Wied said. "It'sour home but it's not owned by the Green Bay Packers it's owned bythis community and we've treated it that way."
"This place is probably as well maintained as any facility inthe country," said Pat Webb, executive director of the stadiumdistrict. That's the government board that acts as the landlord forLambeau Field. The stadium district board allocates the moneyraised by the sales tax.
Webb estimates the bonds used to build the stadium will be paidoff next summer. But the sales tax will keep going. That's becauseaccording to the law, the stadium district has to raise enoughmoney to pay to operate and maintain the stadium through the year2031. That's when the team lease with the stadium district and thecity will expire.
Once the stadium is paid off, the stadium board will need tocollect another $60 million to $80 million in sales tax. The exactamount is not known because of interest rates. The money will beset aside to help the Packers pay to operate and maintain LambeauField.
"That is going to add three to four years on to the sales taxafter the retirement of the debt," Webb said. Based on Webb'scalculations, we'll be paying the Lambeau tax until the year 2014or 2015.
"Are taxpayers aware that these expenses are beingpre-collected?" Parins asked. The taxpayers association opposed theLambeau plan from the start.
"Our association has always felt it's not just a question offairness, using taxpayer money to subsidize professional teams orprofessional interests like this is immoral," Parins said.
But the situation is unique. The Packers may be private buttheir stadium is public. While the taxpayer support helps theteam's bottom line, it also helps the community keep up its biggestasset.
"It's certainly advantageous for us to have that in place but wealso think it's advantageous for the people in Green Bay and thepeople that effectively own the stadium," Wied said.
The only way for the sales tax to continue would be if state lawis changed. However, at any time the county could impose its ownsales tax. We'll tell you more about that possibility Thursdaynight.
First responders helped ring in the holidays at the 45th annual Howard-Suamico Christmas Parade.
Christmas is just two and half weeks away, and kids and families are getting into the holiday spirit.
Single digit temps around the area caused problems in the Fox Valley Saturday morning.
The frigid temperatures forced some area communities to cancel their weekend Christmas celebrations. But New London braved the cold for its annual Holiday of Wonder Parade.
Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's all of the injuries, but many Packers fans are saying "no thanks," to this weekend's Packers game.
With only a little snow on the ground in places, snowmobilers are ready for more. In the Lakewood area, trails are not yet open, but clubs are gearing up for an early start to the season.