Jefferson Davis is a longtime resident of Menomonee Falls. He is the proud parent of two wonderful boys. He enjoys singing, volunteering, reading, gardening, politics, antiques, history, guitar, violin, piano, officiating, helping neighbors and yard work. He served as Village President of Menomonee Falls from 2003-05. He is a member of Northbrook Church and serves on the Advisory Council for the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center. He is an independent registered representative practicing in the areas of insurance, investments and retirement.
Just a short note of thanks for visiting The Vanguard over the last week. The blog was started about a week ago and by the time this new blog is posted around 1,000 visits will have been made to The Vanguard. We’re off to a really good start thanks to you. Let’s keep it going. We have heard many positive comments about the blog so far and promise to keep it interesting and informative so our community has somewhat of an idea of what is really going on with our local politics that will affect us for years to come.The Great Garbage Debate
In the early 90’s, word was being spread around the Falls by local leaders that our community stood to gain a “windfall profit” by having a dump in our backyard. All kinds of numbers ($10 million, $15 million, and $20 million) were being thrown out by our local leaders as to how much money the Village would “make” by having a dump and allowing all of the neighboring counties and perhaps other states to bring their trash to Menomonee Falls. After many meetings with the various governmental entities, it was decided to bring a dump to Menomonee Falls in 1993-94. Negotiations were concluded with the waste vendor agreeing to pay “tipping fees” to the Village to make up for the tax revenue that would be “lost” forever in lieu of having a tax base that would become a dump. It was commonly accepted from public reports and discussions that the number of $15 million was going to be the net amount the Village would receive in “tipping fees” from the waste vendor. The “tipping fee” was an agreed upon assessed amount paid to the Village per ton of garbage left at the dump by the vendor.Tipping Fees and Garbage Collection Costs Exposed 1994-2003
As is often the case with local governments, there is little if any follow up or scrutiny of public policy decisions that have been implemented that affect our community. It is without question that we need a place to send our trash. The debate involves whether or not our community got what it was promised some 15 years ago by our local leaders and whether or not we are getting the most out of this deal for the future that will leave us with lost tax base, environmental concerns, lost tax revenue, potential litigation issues and aesthetic concerns forever. Let’s just get it right now so that our community can look back in 15-20 years with pride and satisfaction instead of questions and second guessing because pertinent information may not have been fully disclosed at the time by our local leaders when it’s too late.
The following is what actually happened for the Village taxpayers with the waste vendor tipping fees from 1994-2003 in the initial 10 year period:
Tipping Fees to Village from Taxes Paid to WMX
Waste Management (WMX) for Garbage Collection
1994 $ 176,761 $ 726,365
1995 1,342,142 773,002
1996 961,099 817,001
1997 984,199 865,004
1998 1,052,369 887,976
1999 1,405,099 864,988
2000 2,019,309 843,982
2001 2,191,564 903,287
2002 1,749,706 981,517
2003 2,049,425 1,007,456
Net Gain: $5,261,095 to taxpayers
*These numbers are from Village Financial Department
The taxpayers did not receive $15 million like they were told by our local leaders in 1993-94. The Village would not have gotten $13,931,673 from WMX from 1994-2003 unless the taxpayers gave WMX $8,670,578 to begin with. Waukesha County did not receive any portion of the tipping fees. There are many examples all over America where various businesses have to pay the local municipalities large amounts of royalties, taxes, federal and state income taxes, dividends, leases, contributions, fees or providing services in exchange for locating their business in that particular community. More about that later.
More Exposure Revealed 2004-Present with $42 Million Complex Costs
The Village had to renegotiate a new 10 year contract with WMX in 2004 with the dump's closure scheduled for 2014 for permit purposes. After many meetings and heated debate in 2003-04, the Village agreed to accept a $33 million, 10 year payout in tipping fees from WMX in early 2004. Unfortunately, some of the Village Board Members, one who was on the Waukesha County Board with close ties to the County Board Chairman from the Falls, wanted to give Waukesha County at least 10%, when they had never received any of the tipping fees previously, of the projected $33 million from WMX when they knew that the taxpayers had already been stuck with a $42 million bill for the new library, police station and village hall Municipal Facilities Fund in 2000-02 that was already some $17 million short and would severely and adversely affect the taxpayer with an average of $800-$1,000 in new taxes above and beyond normal property taxes starting in 2016 through 2022, if not sooner, when the community was repeatedly told by the same Village Board Members that everything had been paid for without one penny from the taxpayers.
Ultimately, in early 2004, the Village agreed, much to the chagrin of several Board Members at the time, to give the County 5% or $1.65 million in tipping fees over the new 10 year contract leaving the village taxpayer in an even worse debt situation with only $31.35 million of the originally promised $33 million which is well short of the needed $42 million. Former and current Village Officials at the time, blamed the economy, the 911 Attack and low interest rates for the $17 million shortfall. This is the agreement that the Village and WMX have been working under for the last four (4) years.
The following is a summary of that agreement since 2004:
WMX Tipping Fees to Village Village Taxes to WMX
2004 $2,034,249 $1,000,671
2005 2,724,081 1,012,054
Net Gain: $2,745,605 to taxpayers
Remember, the Village does not get $4,758,330 from WMX unless the taxpayers give WMX $2,012,725 first. This is a far cry from the $3.1 million in annual payments for 10 years from WMX that our community was told it was going to get by certain members of the Village Board and Orchard Landfill Siting Committee at the time and some which still serve on those respective committees.
*Note: These numbers are supplied by the Village Financial Department
The Vanguard requested the 2006-07 numbers from the Village
Manager last year and have yet to receive them.
Negotiations Reopened with WMX in 2007-2008 to Make up Shortfall and Extend Landfill Life
The new Village Manager met with a couple of members of The Vanguard almost a year ago and informed them that he was immediately given an edict by the Village Board to “fix” the $17 million shortfall for the library, police station and library Municipal Facilities Fund. It’s been obvious for a long time that the Village needed to upgrade these facilities and it can be debated whether or not the upgrades needed to be as extravagant as they are, but the issue remains the same that our community was repeatedly told by our local leaders at the time, some of which still remain on the Board, that these facilities were all paid for without any dollars from the taxpayers which we now know not to have been true.The new Village Manager has also been recently quoted in the press and speaking on cable television involving this current matter as follows: “Let me be clear tonight that the landfill is scheduled to stay open for at least 15 more years (the year 2023) and we actually think that’s a very conservative estimate. The total debt service that we have can be paid off completely by 2017 with estimated tipping fees for the landfill. We are more than secure stating that the tipping fees will pay off the debt service for the capital projects that have been completed.”
If this is true, then The Vanguard would like the Village Manager to make this public knowledge as to how these projections were attained without expanding the life of the dump and how the $17 million shortfall that has been suddenly and mysteriously made up since his arrival just one short year ago. The only way that this could be possible is if the Village had an interest free bond(s), a write down in interest, a forgivable bond issue(s) or a windfall profit to pay off debt service early. Also, if the shortfall has been made up, why is the dump’s life expectancy currently being negotiated to be extended and what will the projected tipping fees be to the Village and what will the County’s and Germantown’s cuts be? Several members of the Village Board have frequently criticized those who raise these questions because they feel the numbers are outdated, misleading and incorrect. Ok, then please give The Vanguard the current, accurate and truthful numbers and we will print them. After all, it’s just the taxpayer’s money.
Village Assessor Projects $500,000 Loss in Tax Revenue with Dump Closure in 2014
The Village Assessor at the time (2003) released a letter to the public in response to a committee member's request stated that the property taxes from WMX in 2013 would be about $553,000 a year for the dump operations. Once the dump closed in 2014, taxes from WMX would drop to about $53,000 or a loss of $500,000 a year forever to be picked up by the taxpayers of course. The projected annual $3.1 million payments from WMX would also stop because the dump would then be closed leaving the taxpayers to make up for the projected $17 million shortfall that will hit the average homeowner with $800-$1,000 in new taxes above and beyond their regular property tax bill. The Village also does not have any selling rights to the methane gas from the dump with WMX for revenue purposes.
TIF District 5 Continues to be Challenged
Started in 1999, at a cost of approximately $16,500,000 (plus debt service/interest) to the taxpayers being paid back by the businesses that have located in the business park, TIF District 5 is located across the street from the dump. Nearly 10 years later, it is still not full (about 50-60% occupied) and thanks to those businesses that came to the Falls, the debt service is currently being met. The concern of course is how will the remaining available lots be sold with a dump across the street when the businessman who built the business park was told that the dump was probably going to be closed in 2014 and had no idea of it being expanded? Tough sell when the property is across the street from a dump that is going to eventually be the size of a small mountain like the other already covered area that exists.Waste Management’s Corporate Profile and Similar Arrangements Across America for Other Businesses
Many businesses across America have to make huge concessions to local governmental entities in order to domicile their operations in that particular location with royalty payments, tax rebates, provided services, federal and state income tax payments, dividends, leases, contributions to the community, etc. The Vanguard is asking WMX to do the same for Menomonee Falls. The issue is not with WMX, but it is with those local leaders who promised our community in 2002-03 and some of which still remain on the Village Board, that the $42 million Municipal Facilities Fund would be paid for, “…without any taxpayer’s dollars” that need to come up with a solution to correct this situation and soon.
Here’s the Corporate Profile of WMX (www.wm.com) as of 12-31-07:
· Total Revenue: $13.31 billion
· Net Income: $1.16 billion
· More than 47,000 employees
· Some 277 landfills
· 5 year Projected Growth Earnings 10.89% (www.tdameritrade.com)
· $17.9 billion Market Cap
The Vanguard has done a little research and has found just a few of the possible hundreds of examples that currently may exist of the following arrangements across America:
Oil wells in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a5fyvudrWEoo)
Oil drilling in Alaska (http://www.earthrights.net/docs/oilrent.html)
Natural gas drilling in Fort Worth, Texas (http://money.cnn.com/2008/04/30/news/economy/elkind_ftworth.fortune/index.htm)
Commanche Peak Power Plant in Glen Rose, Texas (http://www.txucorp.com/power/plants/comanche_peak.aspx)
Portage Power Plant in Columbia County Wisconsin (Pacific Township) (www.co.columbia.wi.us)
Natural gas in Wyoming (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/10/25/MNGED9FNH01.DTL)
Natural gas in Pennsylvania (http://www.timesleader.com/news/hottopics/shale/Study__Gas_royalties_will_help_all_of_Pa__06-25-2008.html)
John McCain's pick as his vice-presidential nominee gets it too (http://www.breitbart.tv/html/163813.html)
The $85 per household annual $1.2 million garbage tax indexed at 3% a year left unchecked will result in the following increases without a vote by the Village Board:
2013 $ 98.55
Contact your Local Elected Official with your input
The Vanguard is seeking openness and transparency from our local elected officials on this issue. We will provide their contact information so they will know how you feel about the debt service and garbage tax:
Trustee Sharon Ellis Trustee Dennis Farrell
N79 W15360 Goldenrod Drive N94 W15987 Cherokee Drive
Trustee Jim Jeskewitz Trustee Jeff Steliga
N80 W15239 Hilltop Drive W209 N9106 Scenic Drive
Trustee Randy Newman Trustee Mike McDonald
N74 W15300 Stoneridge Drive W162 N7406 Tamarack Drive
President Rick Rechlicz
Address and phone number
What do you think?
Please participate in our poll.
Who do think should pay for the $42 million Municipal Facilities Fund and the projected $17 million shortfall starting in 2016?
_____The taxpayers starting in 2016 as projected by the Village with an additional
average $800-$1,000 per household in new taxes above and beyond the
normal property tax bill.
_____WMX as was promised by the Village Board in 2002-03.
Do you think the taxpayer should continue to pay the annual $85 per household $1.2 million garbage tax indexed at 3% a year without any vote from the Village Board or have WMX pick up the garbage tax for the life of the dump as other businesses have to do with their plan in exchange for domiciling their business in various communities across America?
To add your comment, please click on Add Comment below or email The Vanguard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week's posting, "Village President...not a bad gig if you can get it"