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Wanna make some cash in Milwaukee? Hire movers

By Marie Rohde

It would seem that MJ Construction’s owner, Michael Tomasini, made a very smart decision when he moved at least part of his Menomonee Falls business to a building on Kaul Ave. that he owns with his wife.

The building, located at 8617 W. Kaul Ave., has a fair market value of about $250,000 and carries a tax bill of $6,025.33.

The Milwaukee address gives Tomasini a big edge over his competitors bidding on public works projects. In August 2009, a local preference city ordinance was enacted that gives city “domiciled” businesses a 5 percent bid preference, capped at $25,000 per contract.

So far the city has spent more than $83,000 than it would have spent if the ordinance had not been adopted.

The most recent project MJ got despite bidding higher than a competitor netted the company nearly enough to pay the property taxes on the building. MJ bid $155,369 to complete a sewer reconstruction project on the near North Side of the city. If the city had gone with United Sewer & Water Inc. — longtime neighbors of MJ in Menomonee Falls — taxpayers would have saved more than $5,000.

Originally, the Common Council required that the bid preference could only go to businesses that own buildings in the city. The Milwaukee Public Works Committee decided that leasing a building was acceptable if the company had been a tenant for at least a year. MJ came in under the wire and has gotten a lot of business from the city.

Pat Curley, a spokesman for Mayor Tom Barrett, said the measure is an attempt to encourage business to move to or stay in the city and to hire more city residents as workers. Gauging the success of those goals will be difficult.

Marie Rohde is a new staff writer at The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at (414) 225-1807.

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