Monday, November 28, 2011

Was there a "Brewer stimulus"? Small, but possible

Now that the state has reported the sales taxes for counties that have sales taxes through the middle of November, I figured now would be a good time to see if the Milwaukee area truly benefitted from the Brewers' run to the NLCS. If there was a serious "Brewer stimulus", you'd see it in sales taxes, as the extra ticket sales, team gear, and food and drinks spent out at bars would be reflected in that type of revenue.

The short answer is- minorly. Milwaukee County had a definite increase in sales tax revenues for the October and November distributions vs. last year (which reflect sales in September and October), but it was already getting increased revenues before then, and it's a bit hard to tell if the increase comes only from the Crew's success.

Milwaukee Co. sales tax revenues
Jan.-Sept. 2011 - $47,783,484
Jan.-Sept. 2010 - $45,026,681(2011 increase 6.12%)

Oct.-Nov. 2011 - $11,305,025
Oct.-Nov. 2010 - $10,191,673 (2011 increase 10.92%)

I think Chris Abele and County staff will take the modest bump. So will the Stadium district (the 5-county 0.1% sales tax that helps pay for Miller Park), as they were up 9.41% vs. October and November of 2010.

But possibly the biggest winners from the Brewers run may be the Wisconsin Center District, who own and operate downtown Milwaukee facilities like the MECCA, Milwaukee Theatre, and the convention center. From the WCD's own website, it explains how it gets its money to operate.
WCD receives no property tax money or Federal, State or local subsidy. Its operations are funded by operating revenues. Special sales taxes on hotel rooms, on prepared food and drinks sold in restaurants and taverns, and on car rentals repay a $185 million bond issue that funded the Midwest Express Center project, and provide funding to Visit Milwaukee. None of these tax revenues are used to fund WCD operations.

Within the boundaries of Milwaukee County, WCD collects 2% on rooms, 3% on car rentals, and 0.5% on food and beverage sales. It also receives a 7% hotel room tax formerly collected by the City of Milwaukee. Effective January, 2011, the county-wide hotel room tax increases to 2.5%, as requested by affected hoteliers to provide additional funding for Visit Milwaukee.
And the WCD saw those revenues go up 18.50% in the three-month period of September, October and November. That increased hotel tax hit at just the right time with the Brewers getting hot and grabbing so much of out town media that needed to stay in the Milwaukee area. Now can they get that center paid off and give the hotel tax back to the City of Milwaukee so city residents can get some breaks on their property taxes? Worth keeping an eye on.

So it looks like the Brewers' success gave a minor lift to the County and Stadium district finances, and a big boost to the Milwaukee Center District and Milwaukee "lesiure industry" work. Too bad for Scott Walker that this Brewers-related business still couldn't save us from being dead last in job growth during that same period, and that the Brewers' bump in sales taxes was over with October.

Ironically, it's these "leisure industry" workers that have had a dearth of downtown sporting events in the last month due to the Bucks lockout, and you can bet they're as glad as anyone in the state is to see the NBA lockout end. Let's see if that pops in for the last month of the year and January 2012.

1 comment:

  1. And if the stadium had been downtown, within walking distance of restaurants, nightspots, hotels...