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Need a license? It'll cost ya

Wisconsin State Roundup

July 1, 2004

Need a license? It'll cost ya

The state's cities and counties are relying more on revenue from services to cover their budgets, and the user fees have gone up to match.

A study issued by the Legislative Audit Bureau showed that from 1997 to 2001, the last year figures were available, revenue collected by cities from user fees increased 22.9 percent. County user fee revenue increased by 21.5 percent over the same period.

Cities and counties collect fees for a number of services, such as marriage and liquor licenses, parking, sanitation and permits. Utilities generate 47 percent of user fee revenue, and sewage services, 23.7 percent.

A major reason for the increase is the decline in state aid to cities. At the same time, increases in property taxes have become less politically feasible.

Although the figures are a few years old, it doesn't look like the trend will go away any time soon—54.8 percent of villages, 38.9 percent of cities, 28.6 percent of towns and 26.8 percent of counties expect to set new fees in the next three years, the study found.

Joe Mahon