Wisconsin town raises sales tax after power plant shutdown

Collection for a new half-percent sales tax started in Kewaunee County on Saturday April 1, 2017. (WLUK)

KEWAUNEE (AP) -- A county in eastern Wisconsin is implementing an extra half percent sales tax after the closure of a nuclear power plant.

Kewaunee County is the latest in a long string of Wisconsin counties to impose the optional tax, the Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

County Board Supervisor Lee Luft said that the Kewaunee Power Station caused the loss of nearly 600 jobs and millions in income for the county after it closed in 2013.

"That plant used to generate electric power, which was taxed by the county and actually generated about three quarters of a million dollars in county income," he said.

Luft estimated the increase in sales tax will amount to $1 million a year.

The county has eliminated 16 jobs and made county employees pay more for health insurance since the closure. Luft said that services and road maintenance would have suffered if not for the sales tax increase.

The additional tax was approved in late 2016 and is expected to end in 2021, although the county board has the option to extend it.

The county board supervisor held a public meeting last year for village and town officials to be briefed on the tax increase.

Luft says that taxpayers "weren't delighted" about paying the extra tax, but "they were sympathetic to the idea that if we're going to maintain our current level of services, that we're going to have to do something given the loss of the funding of the Kewaunee nuclear plant."

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