Debate heats up between County Executive and County Board over sales tax proposal

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - With just days until the Outagamie County board is expected to vote on a sales tax proposal, county board members are calling out the County Executive.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson (WBAY photo)

A group of board members demand that Tom Nelson, who opposes the half percent tax, discontinue running what they call a misleading radio ad about the issue.

And neither side is willing to back down.

"Adopting a sales tax for no real purpose is a mistake." That's just part of the 60 second radio ad County Executive Tom Nelson paid for, using his own campaign funds, denouncing a proposal to add a half percent sales tax in Outagamie County.

According to Nelson, "What this ad is calling for is, this ad is trying to get people engaged. This is taking the step to try and communicate to as many people in Outagamie County that this is happening."

The ad has angered a group of county board members, who say they've worked with Nelson for years, putting political and philosophical differences aside. They hoped to do the same in this case for what they believe is in the best interest of the county and its residents.

"Unfortunately, our current county executive, Tom Nelson, has broken that long tradition and resorted to political tactics he likely picked up at his time in Madison," says County Board Chair Jeff Nooyen.

The board members in support of the tax don't believe Nelson is being truthful. The county board chair says the tax would bring at least $20 million into the community. It's money that would lead to a net tax reduction for the county residents while helping to pay down the county's debt and pay for future capital improvement projects.

Nooyen adds, "Our proposal puts an end to bad budgeting and gets the county on a healthy plan going forward. This worked in Sheboygan County, where they have seen three consecutive years of tax reduction since implementing a similar proposal."

Nelson simply disagrees and says the county is fiscally sound, so there's no need for this new tax. He says, "It doesn't make sense for us to adopt one tax to pay for another tax. And right now the purpose just isn't clear. I think that this is a mistake. I have put my foot down. I'm going to do everything in my power to stop this."

County board leaders are confident they have the votes to override a veto from Nelson if he decides to use one.

The full county board will take up the sales tax issue on Tuesday.

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