Legislation introduced by Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs urges a state law change to establish a moratorium on assessing interest and penalties on property tax accounts, as well as a look at allowing certain city positions to qualify for hazardous duty pay.
Alderwoman Coggs, chair of the Finance and Personnel Committee, said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a major negative financial impact on small businesses and individuals, with many Milwaukee businesses being required to close per official order and residents forced out of work because of stay-at-home and required closure orders across all sectors.
Currently, state statutes govern the billing and collection of property taxes, as well as delinquent tax interest and penalties (and currently recognize no exceptions for their assessment). Her legislation would authorize the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Division to urge the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Evers to pass legislation that would establish a set time period moratorium on assessing interest and penalties on property tax accounts.
The Alderwoman’s effort would dovetail with that of City Treasurer Spencer Coggs, who on March 20 sent a letter to the Governor and state legislative leaders, urging the passage of legislation that would establish a set time period moratorium on assessing interest and penalties on property tax accounts.
“These are unprecedented times as workers find themselves furloughed and businesses and individuals being unable to meet their financial obligations, including paying their property taxes,” Alderwoman Coggs said.
“With the devastating and sudden loss of income being felt across the board, I believe individual property taxpayers and beleaguered small businesses impacted by the pandemic would benefit from the relief of not having to pay interest and penalties on property tax accounts,” she said.
A second legislative file introduced by Alderwoman Coggs would require the Department of Employee Relations to look at establishing hazardous duty pay for “essential” city workers. Currently, “essential” city employees across the city workforce are required to report to their work locations during the COVID-19 pandemic, while “non-essential” city workers are asked to stay and (in some cases) work from home.
“I believe this is an issue of fairness and one that we need to look at closely, especially with the likelihood that the ‘stay home’ orders could be in effect for many weeks if not months to come,” Alderwoman Coggs said.
The measure could come before the Finance and Personnel Committee when it meets on April 9 at City Hall.