Clean Energy Jobs Bill Would Lower Property Taxes

Local Government Provided With Tools, Incentives to Reduce Taxes

Press Release: February 11, 2010

Local property taxes would go down if key provisions of the Clean Energy Jobs legislation are enacted, according to testimony given today by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

“The demand-side provisions of the transportation policies included in the Clean Energy Jobs legislation would drive down the costs of building and maintaining the transportation infrastructure,” according to Steve Hiniker, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.
Hiniker provided testimony at  today’s Senate Select Committee on Clean Energy hearing on the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Today’s hearing focused on transportation and agricultural policies contained in the bill. 1000 Friends testimony focused on demand-side transportation policies that reduce the demand for driving a single occupant vehicle.
“The bill calls for simple strategies to significantly reduce the costs of transportation facilities as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. By focusing on infill development, enhancing transit options and eliminating subsidies for parking, communities can give a boost to the environment, make their communities better places to live and reduce taxes,” Hiniker noted.
The following strategies were highlighted at the hearing:

  • Development of a market-based pricing model for parking

Many communities currently rely on taxpayers to subsidize automobile driving by offering parking for commuters that is below the market price. The Clean Energy Jobs legislation calls for a model ordinance to be developed in order to help communities remove this subsidy from the property tax and have users pay the full cost of parking.

  • Planning grants for compact development

Communities rely on up to 20% of local property taxes to help pay for transportation costs such as road maintenance and construction. Compact development offers the opportunity to reduce those costs by locating residential properties closer to destinations such as schools, work and recreational areas. Compact development also reduces the need to drive to all destinations, thus lowering commuting costs for residents. Less driving also means lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as less time lost in traffic.

  • Metropolitan Planning Organization reform

Currently, major metropolitan areas must plan to meet the transportation needs for new development in the region. The existing system essentially informs communities when they must expand roads to service new development. The Clean Energy Jobs legislation changes that planning requirement to include an analysis of ways to reduce the need for roads servicing new development. The legislation also includes a requirement to develop a target for lower emissions as well as a good faith effort to implement strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources. These requirements will lead to better decisions on where development occurs and what kinds of transportation services will be needed for it. This legislation could lead to the development of lower cost transit options servicing new development, in turn significantly reducing the need to build and maintain new and wider highways.

“The Clean Energy Jobs bill will help communities keep transportation infrastructure costs down and shift the costs from the taxpayer to the transportation system user. This means lower property taxes and healthier communities that provide better amenities for their residents,” concluded Hiniker.