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Expert says La Crosse County doesn’t qualify for “tourism tax” to pay for roads

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PRAT is .5% sales tax on most goods in county 

If La Crosse County is allowed to charge a Premier Resort Area Tax to raise money for road repairs, it won’t get to decide which businesses will be taxed.

Todd Berry of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says, since La Crosse doesn’t qualify for that special tax now, it has little sway over the state law regulating the tax.

“So, if it were going to do it, it needs approval of the governor and the legislature,” Berry said on WIZM on Thursday. “Then that kicks in the application of the state law.” 

The PRAT would be a .5-percent sales tax on most goods sold in La Crosse County but Berry says the county is not considered a tourism magnet like other parts of the state.

“The state law says you have to have 40 percent of your property value in tourist related property and La Crosse doesn’t meet that test,” Berry said.

Berry spoke at a Chamber of Commerce forum in La Crosse this week, arguing that the PRAT would not be a good way for the county to increase road funding.

Ironically, Berry believes a wheel tax, added onto vehicle registration fees, might work, even though county leaders gave up on that idea.

“When the state sends out its renewal form, if you’re in a city or county that has that, you pay that extra amount and the state sends that out to a locality,” Berry explained.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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