Multiple municipalities opposed plan

By Jason Arndt
Editor

Proposed legislation to create a regional economic development agency, which could have allocated 1 percent of all tax increments generated by municipalities with tax incremental districts in Kenosha and Racine counties, will not move forward.

At a Feb. 6 City of Burlington Committee of the Whole meeting, City Administrator Carina Walters told common council members the proposal came up during a meeting involving Foxconn, which plans to build a $10 billion manufacturing facility in the Village of Mt. Pleasant.

With Foxconn’s arrival, according to Walters, some people at the meeting saw it as an opportunity for Racine and Kenosha counties to form a joint marketing effort.

Jim Kreuser

State Rep. Robin Vos, who authored the proposal, encouraged municipalities to garner feedback.

Common council members, however, had a variety of questions, notably how money will be disbursed, compromising existing TIDs and how municipalities more than 10 miles from the development could benefit from the new development agency.

Meanwhile, in Kenosha County, all municipalities opposed the proposal, County Executive Jim Kreuser said.

“They decided it wasn’t in the county’s best interest,” said Kreuser, who met Feb. 1 with seven municipalities, including the villages of Salem Lakes, Bristol, Paddock Lake and Twin Lakes.

“There were a number of significant issues at the local level.”

In a letter drafted by the City of Kenosha and signed by all municipalities, including the four in Western Kenosha County, they outlined several concerns.

When the municipalities created their TIDs, they said the proposed 1 percent allocation was not planned, and that each of their TIDs shoulder different debt loads.

If 1 percent is allocated to a new district, according to the letter, it could result in a shortfall of debt service.

“That shortfall would require funding by increasing the local tax levy resulting in a tax increase for our residents,” the letter states, adding the measure could also delay closure of TIDs set to expire.

“We had preliminary discussions with our bond counsel regarding this proposal and have not received positive feedback,” the letter adds.

Along with unfavorable financial reviews, the municipalities saw the new agency as redundant, considering the each municipality receives services from the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, and if needed, the Milwaukee 7 Economic Development Partnership.

While there were concerns among municipalities, some positive developments came from the discussions, Kreuser said.

“This was the first time in a long time that all of these people got together to talk about their tax incremental districts and what they are doing,” he said. “It created a dialogue.”

State Rep. Samantha Kerkman agreed, adding it opened dialogue between both counties, who could collaborate by helping each municipality find viable land for economic development.

“Overall, it got everybody in the same room talking about TIDs, and what space is available for businesses going forward, especially with Foxconn coming in,” Kerkman said.

“We can all work together, that is our whole goal, to collaborate,” she added.

 
 

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