giving up on TIF District No.2
Lack of development leads Cedarburg to close taxing district
on property on Highway 60
By Denise Seyfer - News Graphic Staff
CEDARBURG — With a unanimous
vote at Monday’s Common Council meeting, members closed the
city’s second tax incremental finance district, having to write
“If another (development or TIF district) started tomorrow, we’d
have $1.2 million to make up” due to the decline in market
values since the date the district was created, said council
member Paul Radtke, who served as acting mayor at the meeting
due to Mayor Kip Kinzel’s absence.
The total district was to achieve an estimated $118,538,000 in
projected value had the development occurred. The base value of
the property in the district was $2,924,600 on Jan. 1, 2007.
Owners of the privately held parcels are Clyde Wirth, who was to
develop commercial and senior residential property; Duey
Stroebel, who was to build two-family residential and senior
housing; city of Cedarburg planned on building a business park;
and Rettmann Trust, whose parcel was later sold to the Grob
family and now is Covered Bridge Field. It was to install
offices and a conservation subdivision; Baehmann Family Trust
owns a portion of the district that was to build commercial,
single and two-family residential and a business park.
In a TIF district, funds that would have gone to taxing entities
such as the city or the school district, instead go back into a
fund used for improvements to the district.
The present value of the 2008-2027 increment of the project and
bond should have totaled about $12.2 million at an average
interest rate of 5.35 percent, according to the TIF district
However, since the district was created, no development has
occurred on the land that sits on Sheboygan Road and Highway 60
since the project was approved in January 2007. None of the
projected increment has been captured to date. In fact, the city
lost money, said Cedarburg City Administrator Christy Mertes.
The TIF funds should have paid for water mains, a sanitary sewer
system, a stormwater management system, streets south of Highway
60 and business park improvements and electric service, which
would have included street lighting, gas, telephone lines, an
emergency warning siren and fiber optic utilities.
The city did not want to further burden the
taxpayers with steep infrastructure costs, Radtke said, adding
the TIF district plans for development halted when the economy
“There is no easy way to service the area
with stormwater sewers or water for that matter,” said Public
Works Director Tom Wiza, about the idea for the city to put in
the infrastructure ahead of any residential or commercial
development. “It would be a financial loser for the taxpayers.”
Stagecoach Inn owner Brook Brown said he
would like a discussion with Ehlers to see if the city could
regain the $190,000 loss.
Mertes said she asked Ehlers the same
question, and the response was the city would not be able to
recoup costs. Yet, if another TIF does well, then the city could
get the funds back after paying other involved parties.
Common Council member Patricia Thome read a
statement expressing her disappointment about the original TIF
No. 2, saying it did not happen because the council members in
2001 did not follow the financial advise from Ehlers.
The TIF was developed with the idea that the
city had experienced a limited amount of new industrial
development and industrial expansion, thus limiting growth in
the industrial tax base. Further, the city experienced decreased
job availability along with less indirect local spending by
employees and employers.
Therefore, the city sought to improve its
economic development opportunities to attract an industrial
development and private investment at a 60acre site the city
purchased in 1998. The city business park was considered a
necessity at the time, because there were no large
publicly-owned or privately-owned sites available to offer
existing businesses or to attract new businesses. The business
park was also a component of the city’s master plan for many
The land along Highway 60 lacked public
utilities and internal streets, according to project plan
documents, so the creation of TIF No. 2 was deemed necessary to
provide the funding for the business park and other development
nearby, said council members at the time.
Further, the city had no developer engaged
specifically to finance development. Adding to the mix, the city
had no budgeted funds available to pay the costs of needed
City officials said they remain hopeful that
a different, more viable development would be possible on the
Denise Seyfer can be reached at