Late last night the Senate adopted an amended version of the state budget and passed it on to the Assembly, which will take it up later today. The Senate made the following changes to the version of the budget recommended by the Joint Finance Committee last week:
Prevailing Wage. The Senate added language to the state budget bill repealing the prevailing wage law that applies to local government public construction projects. The budget amendment retains the prohibition against municipalities adopting local prevailing wage laws.
Requiring Municipalities to Offer a Particular High-Deductible Health Plan Alternative for Protective Service Employees. The Senate budget amendment clarifies that a provision added by the Joint Finance Committee requiring all local governments to offer to police, fire, and EMT employees a high-deductible health plan that has identical design features to the high-deductible health plan offered to state employees applies only to the City of Milwaukee. The original amendment was sought by the Milwaukee police union.
Mandate to Extend Water and Sewer Outside Municipal Borders Under Certain Circumstances. The Senate budget amendment modifies a provision interfering with the ability of a municipality to control whether, when and under what circumstances to extend utility services outside its borders by limiting its application to Kenosha County only. The provision was sought by the Village of Somers.
Local Government Property Insurance Fund Restored. The Senate budget amendment deletes provisions in the budget closing out the local government property insurance fund. The Senate amendment further requires the Insurance Commissioner to adopt policy rate increases and structure changes recommended by the local government property insurance fund advisory committee on April 9, 2015. [NOTE: The League of Wisconsin Municipalities Mutual Insurance company has joined with CVMIC and WMMIC to create a new Municipal Property Insurance Company, which will be offering property insurance for local governments at competitive rates this fall.]
Town of Windsor Special Incorporation Process. The Senate budget amendment extends the streamlined incorporation process for the Town of Windsor in Dane County to the Town of Maine abutting the Village of Brokaw in Marathon County.
Making Municipal Public Building Plan Information Available to "Public Plan Rooms"
The Senate added language to the budget requiring municipalities to respond to requests from "public plan rooms" for public building plan information by providing the information electronically without charging a fee. A "public plan room" is defined as a nonprofit organization that gathers and makes available to the public and general contractors for inspection and copying public building plan information.
Delay Room Tax Law Changes by One Year. The Senate budget amendment delays by one year the changes the Joint Finance Committee made to the prevailing wage law that the League opposed. As a result of this change, municipalities currently retaining more than 30 percent of the room tax revenue for purposes other than tourism promotion and development must now reduce and cap the amount they retain to the same dollar amount the community retained in 2010, instead of 2009. Communities will have until 2021 instead of 2020 to accomplish this.
Expansion of Property Tax Exemption for Rented Personal Property. The Senate added language to the budget allowing companies that engage in equipment rental and leasing, but also provide ancillary services, to be eligible for a personal property tax exemption created in the last state budget for entities exclusively engaged in the business of equipment rental and leasing.