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Lawmakers call to end Miller Park sales tax

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some Milwaukee residents say twenty years should be long enough to pay for Miller Park.

"I don't understand why the sales tax is still going, and why they need to extend it further. It seems as if the consumer has paid enough for the stadium," Ann Fasbender said.

Every year since 1996, five Milwaukee-area counties have paid an extra .1 percent sales tax, or ten cents for ever $100 spent, to support Miller Park. Last year, the tax netted more than $30 million for the Brewers.

"I think it should be ended soon," Jamie Bublitz said. "The stadium should be paid for by now."

Wisconsin Senator Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, introduced a bill to end the tax in 2019 for good. He says he loves the Brewers as much as anyone.

"I'm a season ticket holder," Carpenter said. "I love the Brewers. I've probably gone to thousands of games since I was a little kid in 1970, but a promise is a promise."

That promise, when he voted for the tax in 1996, was that it would end in 2014. He says the recession changed the timetable, and it was extended to 2019.

"People believe in something," Carpenter said. "They vote for it. They support it. And then someone says later on. Well, things changed. That doesn't work out very well it's not a good excuse."

The Miller Park District sent this statement when asked about the bill:

"The Miller Park District Board of Directors has always been committed to retiring the 0.1% Miller Park sales tax as quickly as possible.  Senator Carpenter’s bill appears to be consistent with the sentiment of the Miller Park District Board, and while well-intentioned, the bill as introduced might actually prove to be unconstitutional.

In essence, 2017 Senate Bill 443 is very similar to previously proposed legislation regarding the Miller Park District and the related 0.1% sales tax.  The previously proposed legislation was found to be unconstitutional in that it violated the existing terms and conditions of bond contracts, bond insurance and other legal agreements.  Because the District feels 2017 Senate Bill 443 may also be found to be unconstitutional, it would not be appropriate or necessary for the District to comment further before the proposed legislation is properly vetted by state agencies and state legal counsel."

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