Sunday, October 16, 2011

Can the Brewers and Badgers save their communities' budgets?

Given the remarkable last 2 weeks in Wisconsin sports, with 2 of the last 3 weekends featuring Brewer home playoff games, and Badger and Packer home games all taking place in a 36-hour period, it led me to wonder if we'd see a bump in those communities' economic situations.

An immediate place that I think you'd see an effect is in sales tax revenues, because every ticket, beer, food, and piece of team gear bought generates sales taxes (check your ticket stub if you don't believe me). Particularly given that we're now on unexpected Brewer home game #6 (and hopefully #7 on Monday), you'd see many of these numbers show up in October's sales tax figures for Milwaukee County, which have yet to be reported. But there also should be an effect for September, as attendance went up with numerous sellouts and purchases of "Division Champs" gear after the Crew clinched on Sept. 23. So let's check July-September 2010 vs. July-Sept. 2011 for Milwaukee County's sales tax revenue, and also the Miller Park 0.1% sales tax district in the 5 counties in and around Milwaukee. If there's a "Brewer effect", we would expect to see it show up there.

Sales tax, Milwaukee County July-Sept.
2010 $15,969,731
2011 $15,712,637 (-1.6%)

0.1% Sales tax, 5-County Miller Park district Aug.-Sept.
2010 $6,422,974
2011 $6,349,177 (-1.1%)

No Brewer effect yet, however, we also know that the Wisconsin economy has declined since Scott Walker's budget began in July, so maybe it just follows the trend for the rest of the state. Let's look at the sales tax revenues in Wisconsin counties that have a local sales tax.

Wisconsin local sales taxes, July-Sept.
2010 $74,973,234
2011 $76,343,091 (+1.8%)

So actually the "Brewer Counties" are trailing the rest of the state. So if there is a budgetary effect on the budgets of the Brewers' great run, we haven't seen it yet. And given that the County needs another $17 million in revenues to reach Scott Walker's "amibitious" sales tax figures for 2011, they'd better hope there's some Brewer in effect coming for October- an effect they haven't seen much of yet.

How about Dane County, where the Badgers continue to kick ass in front of sellout crowds?
Dane Co. sales taxes July-Sept.
2010 $10,741,249
2011 $11,496,969 (+7.0%)

Ok, so maybe there's something there, particularly given that there were 3 Badger home games in both Sept. 2010 and Sept. 2011. Let's also look at Dane County's February and March sales taxes, given that it was the height of protest season.

2010 $6,182,728
2011 $6,954,078 (+12.5%)

Given that Dane County estimated a 0.01% increase from last year's $40.500 million in sales taxes these two bumps may mean up to $3 million in relief for this year's budget, which is also money they can carry over to stabilize next year's.

The last item to point out is that the County sales tax collections indicate that another budget deficit may be ready to appear if there isn't a Bucky or Bernie effect in the next few months. The 2011-2012 budget figures an increase in state sales taxes of 3.91%. As I've pointed out above, local sales taxes in a majority of Wisconsin communities are only up 1.83% for the first 3 months under Walker's first budget. If that 1.83% growth trend continues for the next 9 months, it means sales taxes would be down $85.5 million for fiscal year 2012. There are already budget deficits due to low end-year FY 2011 revenues and higher-than-expected Medicaid expenses, so another $85 million would put the deficit well over $200 million.

So you can see why Scott Walker, Chris Abele, and Joe Parisi are hoping hard that there's a big bump in October from this historical sports month- because if they don't, they'll lose even more cushion in a time when they need all the help they can get.

And for Shawn Marcum- please don't fuck up tonight. Just please don't fuck up.

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