Kitchens Pushes City PRAT

Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) asked Gov. Tony Evers last week during a one-to-one talk to support a budget motion that would authorize a premier resort area tax (PRAT) for the City of Sturgeon Bay. A PRAT is a 0.5% increase in the sales tax of a tourism-dependent area that helps to fund infrastructure used by visitors who do not pay property taxes there. 

Gaining the tax for the city is one of the main priorities of local officials behind Door/Kewaunee Legislative Days, Kitchens said during his weekly e-update. About 70% of voters in Sturgeon Bay also supported the tax in a 2018 referendum.

Attempts to gain permission from the state to institute a PRAT in Sturgeon Bay have failed thus far, including a bill Kitchens sponsored in 2019. The state law governing PRATs is written in a way that tailors it to apply only to Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton, but additional communities, including Sister Bay and Ephraim, have been granted permission. Sister Bay instituted a PRAT in 2018, Ephraim this year. 

Sturgeon Bay lobbied for permission to create a PRAT during the 2019 Door/Kewaunee Legislative Days, when Department of Revenue representatives said they would discuss it with Evers’ staff. At that time, Kitchens believed the change would go through the budget rather than as a stand-alone bill – a belief now resurrected for the 2021-22 budget, requested directly this time.

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