Lisbon Waits to Endorse a Sussex Merger, Public Forum Scheduled
The Lisbon Town Board says it wants to wait until after Wednesday night's public forum to endorse the Sussex-Lisbon merger.
The Lisbon Town Board members postponed a vote on whether or not they endorse a potential merger with Sussex, saying they would prefer to vote after Lisbon’s public forum on Wednesday, according to the Sussex Sun.
The Hamilton Fine Arts Center will host the public forum at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, open to anyone interested in learning more about the potential merger.
During Monday night’s meeting in Lisbon, Town Chairman Matt Gehrke outlined various reasons why the town should negotiate with Sussex officials about a merger. However, Gehrke said he and the other Lisbon Town Board members would drop the idea of a consolidation if voters struck down the merger during the upcoming August 14 referendum.
The entire reasoning behind the potential merger is Lisbon’s diminishing tax base, something that could decrease even further if any neighboring municipalities decided to annex more land. In addition, most Lisbon officials have expressed the most interest in a merger because it would simplify government services, be sustainable and hopefully resolve longstanding differences between Sussex and Lisbon.
“Realistically, as a board, we know there are a lot of people that don’t want anything to change,” Gehrke said during a meeting in April. “That’s an option, but not a long-term one. Towns can be viewed as land banks for future growth of neighboring villages or cities. This is extremely problematic. With an eroding tax base, that would mean decreasing services or increasing taxes.”
Want more in-depth details on the merger? Check out Sussex Patch's story outlining everything you need to know. Read it here.
And while almost 70 percent of Sussex Patch readers who took our poll said they would be interested in a merger, many Lisbon residents are concerned with taxes.
Even though it won’t cost anything to merge, Wisconsin law requires residents in the same municipality to be taxed the same. With Lisbon’s tax rate significantly lower than Sussex’s, a blending would slowly occur over 10 years where former Lisbon residents’ tax rate would increase by about a dollar and current Sussex residents’ tax rate would decrease by about a dollar, meeting somewhere in the middle.
In total, taxes on an average home in Lisbon would go up about $100 after the 10 years, but Lisbon officials are quick to point out that’s far less than what Lisbon residents would need to pay in order to maintain their current lifestyle.