If you reside in the city of Janesville, I suggest stocking up on Folgers and making sure your coffee maker still works. That might be the only way some residents will still be able to afford their daily coffee fix once the taxman gets through convincing you to give up that unhealthy habit of drinking coffee in order to finance his 2022 property tax increases.

It’s been a common argument for years when attempting to justify a tax increase for a referendum, capital project or simply need to spend more than levy limits allow: “It’s only the cost of one cup of coffee a week” (or day or month), the proponents will tell you.

So, for us “regular folks,” either retired or otherwise on limited incomes, let’s see just how much coffee you’ll be giving up this year to pay for the estimated tax increases over last year:

City of Janesville increase in the wheel tax (22 cups); city of Janesville increase in stormwater charges (19 cups); city of Janesville property tax (21 cups); Janesville School District (22 cups); Rock County taxes (3 cups); Blackhawk Tech taxes (2 cups).

Looks like you won’t be drinking a daily cup of Starbucks for the first three months of the year. That’s a total of 90 cups of coffee! Sure, the wheel tax increase is only about two cups a month. But added up, your roughly $167 property tax and fee increases for 2022 would buy about 90 cups of coffee.

But wait. Janesville is saving you some coffee funds by using COVID-19 relief money instead of tax dollars to fund the design phase of the indoor sports and conference center. Sounds like good news until you learn that once the project gets the green light, you can look forward to giving up another 13 cups a year (for 20 years).

The city has also stated that the wheel tax and stormwater fee increases only buy a couple years worth of road funding before something else will need to be done. Ka-ching. Goodbye to more of your favorite beverage.

So when these folks come knocking with their hands out for your coffee money, I understand why many folks would like to slam the door shut and say, “Keep your hands off my coffee.” It is simply not a good demonstration of how much local taxes impact residents with low incomes.

We have all been through a very tough year and a half. A lot of our neighbors are struggling to get by with inflation at an annual rate over 6% and no clear end in sight. It provides a great sense of uneasiness to many folks in our community.

Unfortunately, this year’s coffee has already been consumed by those who can vote to take it from us. Would it be too much to ask our community leaders for a moderate amount of sensitivity in 2023 to let us enjoy at least a little caffeinated beverage while there is still some left?

(My coffee cup cost estimates are based on the $40 wheel tax increase (for two cars); the $35 stormwater service increase; a $38.70 average city property tax increase on the median assessed home value; the $40.20 School District of Janesville tax increase on the median assessed home value; the county tax increase of $6; and the Blackhawk Technical College increase of $3.50 for 2022. I’m using the $149,900 median assessed value of a Janesville home and $1.85 for a Starbucks tall coffee).

Tim Bremel is the host of “Your Talk Show” and the operations manager at WCLO radio.


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