La Crosse County Sales Tax Referendum

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During tomorrow’s spring election, voters in La Crosse County will have the chance to weigh in on a proposed sales tax that would be added to certain businesses in the area. It’s called the Premier Resort Area Tax, and it’s been put to use already in other parts of Wisconsin that attract tourists. Fox 25/48’s Erin O’Brien on what’s at stake in tomorrow’s election.

Hundreds of businesses could be affected by the Premier Resort Area Tax — or PRAT tax for short — if it goes into effect in La Crosse county.

The tax would add a half percent sales tax to businesses that attract tourists, such as clothing stores, hotels, and restaurants.

The proceeds from the tax would help pay for infrastructure needs.

“It’s not just the county, but municipalities the city of la Crosse is borrowing, the town of Greenfield is borrowing, the city of Onalaska is borrowing, lots of municipalities are having to borrow for roads and it’s a really expensive way to pay for roads and it’s not a sustainable way.”

Everyone would have to pay the sales tax, not just visitors.

Since La Crosse County first proposed the tax, several business organizations have come out in opposition, including the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Main Street, Explore La Crosse, and the North La Crosse Business Association. Those groups say it would hurt small businesses and discourage tourists from coming here.

“It will just be one more reason for people to shop online, it will be one more reason for people to go to Minnesota and make their clothing purchases that already don’t have to pay sales tax on those, it’s another reason to drive businesses outside of our area.”

But county officials say it’s a good alternative to borrowing funds.

“We are running out of options. So, there has been opposition but I know I run into people who are like duh, we have to do something different.”

Tuesday’s referendum is non-binding, so if it passes, the tax will still need approval from the state legislature and the county board. And then, people living in La Crosse County would vote on it one final time. 

In La Crosse, Erin O’Brien Fox 25/48 News at Nine. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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