By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
At the end of the year, City of Milwaukee property owners are accustomed to making their way Downtown to pay their property taxes in person. To prevent a ‘super spread’ of coronavirus, City Treasurer Spencer Coggs unveiled an alternative solution.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says contactless payment methods are the best way to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, Coggs said. With that in mind, the City of Milwaukee has established eight drop boxes at the city’s police departments and the Zeidler Municipal Building where people can drop off their property tax payments.
On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Coggs held a press conference with Common Council President Cavalier Johnson and acting Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson to discuss the multiple ways taxpayers can submit their payment.
“It has always been a tradition that people would come down here and pay their taxes,” Coggs said. “That would make it a ‘super spreader’ event and on my watch, I’m not going to have a ‘super spreader’ event.”
Coggs explicitly stressed that there will not be any in-person payment options for the foreseeable future. The drop boxes will be available 24-hours a day and year-round, Coggs said. As always, cash payments are not allowed.
“All of the drop boxes content will be collected on a daily basis,” Coggs said.
Aside from the drop boxes, property owners can make their payment online or through the mail. To pay online visit the Office of the City Treasurer’s website at city.milwaukee.gov/treasurer or call 414-286-2240. Options include installing a payment plan, paying with credit or debit card or paying with ACH debit checking or savings.
This year, the City of Milwaukee will be absorbing the convenience fee that is usually charged when an individual uses their credit or debit card to pay their taxes. The convenience fee will be absorbed starting Monday, Dec. 21 until Wednesday, Dec. 30, after that it will be reinstated.
“Property tax payments can be made without risk at having or contracting exposure to COVID-19,” Coggs said. “We want you to be healthy, stay safe and to enjoy the holiday season.”
Johnson took the time to thank Coggs for his consideration when it comes to helping residents pay their taxes. Coggs makes sure it’s open and accessible, Johnson said. Residents need to remain safe and the drop boxes ensure safety while encouraging people to be responsible citizen and pay their taxes, he said.
“On behalf of entire Milwaukee Common Council, I want to thank Spencer Coggs, city treasurer, for once again being imaginative with the powers of that office,” Johnson said.
“And for finding ways for citizens to pay their taxes and to do it safely as we battle this coronavirus pandemic.”
Following Johnson, Jackson expressed her thanks to the Common Council and the Office of Treasurer for their efforts. It’s about finding the little things that can make a big difference when it comes to curving coronavirus, she said.
“We’re focused in the health department on all mitigation steps,” Jackson said, so when another department approaches them about mitigation efforts, the health department tends to support them.
She noted that everyone can take a page from the Office of the Treasurer and find innovative ways to approach the holidays during a pandemic. Be flexible and look at things differently, she said.
The end goal of all of these measures is to ensure people’s health and safety in order to have people celebrating with their friends and families and back to their regular duties as soon as possible.
“Until we can get this pandemic under control, we have to take these kinds of measures that we hope the public understands and appreciates,” Coggs said.