The Wisconsin Department of Revenue recently advised the City of Rhinelander it will receive $153,715.40 for its second premier resort area tax (PRAT) payment of the year.
The special tax has generated a total of $1,466,308.11 in the 2 1/2 years the city has been collecting it.
The PRAT was approved by city voters in 2016 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2017. It was billed as a way to provide the city with an additional source of revenue for infrastructure repairs and improvement without increasing property taxes. It was estimated the tax would generate approximately $400,000 annually for road projects, paid for by everyone who purchases items the state deems "tourist-related."
The money raised may only be used for transportation improvements.
In 2017, the first year of collecting the tax, the city received 325,580. In 2018, the PRAT brought in $833,322,25.
In an interview, city finance director Wendi Bixby noted it is still too early in the history of the tax to gauge how much revenue it will generate year after year.
"I don't have an explanation for why the amount is what it is, but it is very similar to the previous payment that we received," Bixby said of the $153,690.43 the city received for its January payment.
One thing is certain, however, the PRAT has brought in more than its boosters had predicted, she noted.
"They had predicted it would be about $100,000 a payment," Bixby said.
While the city has collected just over $1.466 million, not much of that has been put into streets. Bixby said that the while the city completed nearly $2.5 million in street work last summer, that work was paid for with a 10-year note. The PRAT revenue is being used to make the roughly $250,000 annual payments.
With the Stevens Street reconstruction and installation of the roundabout at the corner of highways 8 and 47, it was decided to not add any other PRAT-funded work this year.
Bixby said the PRAT money is placed in the city's bank account where it does generate interest income.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernews online.com.
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