Public hearing approved for Milwaukee Tool TIF near headquarters in Brookfield

By Hannah Weikel - Freeman Staff

Feb. 7, 2018

BROOKFIELD — A proposal to create a new tax increment district in Brookfield near the Milwaukee Tool headquarters on Lisbon Road for a $35 million expansion project was met with skepticism at a Common Council meeting Tuesday night.

After a brief discussion, a public hearing on the matter that will be held before the next Plan Commission meeting was approved 10 to 3.

The proposal calls for the city to provide nearly $3.5 million for the company’s expansion, which promises the creation of 350 new high-level jobs and a tax kickback of $4.64 million over 15 years. The city provided about $6 million two years ago for the creation of 500 jobs at a separate office building in Brookfield that opened last summer.

Several aldermen asked if it was worth city taxpayers paying approximately $13,000 per job created when people living outside of Brookfield will fill many of those positions.

“Why would we want to create more jobs at local taxpayers expense,” asked District 6 Ald. Christopher Blackburn, adding that when the council approved the expansion in 2016, other indirect benefits were also cited. “I don’t see a visible change in the area around the headquarters. I don’t see a lot of evidence that employers are boosting jobs and hiring people... absent of evidence I’m assuming that these benefits don’t exist.”

Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto took a different argument. He commended Milwaukee Tool for having already created 347 of the 500 jobs from the first phase of their expansion in just a year.

“Milwaukee tool has been a huge success story. These are high-level jobs. They’re clean, they are well paying, family-supporting jobs,” he said. “I think that any community in Wisconsin would be euphoric to have this type of opportunity.”

The public hearing will be held next month and a vote by the Common Council is scheduled in early April.

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