The 4th District is about 7.5 square miles. Our one district is about three and one-half times larger than all of Whitefish Bay, and about 50% larger than each of the City of Cedarburg and the Village of Grafton. Most of the district is residential. It also has a large amount of parkland. However, what is often overlooked is the one square mile of light industrial in the district east of Wauwatosa Road.
As an alderman, my first priority was and will be the residential areas of the district. The 4th District, like all of Mequon, is concerned with safety, roads, schools, property values and low taxes. We all want high value, well-protected neighborhoods.
However, it is mistake to overlook the light industrial area of the district. Light industrial uses few city or county resources. It uses no school resources. Yet, it pays a tremendous amount of taxes, reducing the taxes the rest of us pay.
The light industrial properties in that approximately one square mile contribute almost $1.87 million in real estate taxes every year. In 2016, the business owners in that area will pay:
- about $840,000 in school taxes, or over 350 times the amount paid by the average homeowner (without adding one child to the district);
- about $390,000 to the City (without using our parks, or contributing much to the cost of our safety services); and
- about $240,000 to repay sewer bond obligations (largely incurred before most of the buildings existed).
They also pay county, state and MATC real estate taxes.
The City needs to pay more attention to this area. We need to encourage its success. To the extent it is successful, we all benefit. To the extent it fails, we end up paying more in taxes and, more importantly, adjoining neighborhoods will end up living near blight. Additionally, we need to ensure that adjoining neighborhoods remain well-screened and buffered from this area and the roads and rail traffic that serve the area.