MEQUON — The
Mequon Common Council cleared the way Wednesday to provide
incentives to the developer of the Foxtown project just getting
underway in the city’s Town Center.
action on a 5-3 vote does not specifically award the incentive, the
amendment to the Town Center Tax Incremental Finance District was
the step necessary to provide approximately $4.5 million for
environmental cleanup and demolition on the 17-acre “blighted” site
on the south side of Mequon Road.
Without the TIF
amendment, which still must be approved by the other taxing entities
in a meeting scheduled for Thursday, the city can make no further
TIF expenditures in the district that stretches west on Mequon Road
from the initial project at Cedarburg Road.
are a development tool. Taxes collected from growth in property
value in a TIF district are turned over to a city or village as
revenue to pay for improvements it has made to the property. Over
the life of the district, other taxing units – schools, the county
and technical colleges – only collect taxes on the base value.
In addition to
the developer incentive, Wednesday’s action clears the way for the
city to improve other public areas in the zone. Those could include
“public streetscaping and pedestrian amenities to create a unified
and distinct neighborhood,” according to a memo prepared by
Community Development Director Kim Tollefson.
projects include burying utility lines, lighting, landscaping,
improvements to the riverfront park on the northeast corner of
Mequon and Cedarburg roads and building a trailhead facility along
the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, she added.
redeveloped properties in the Town Center TIF are valued at $74.5
million, which is a 1,209-percent increase from the 2007 base value
of the properties. The private sector contributed 93.7 percent to
the increase in that value. The city’s contribution through
incentives was 6.3 percent, according to Tollefson.
While the TIF
amendment cleared the Planning Commission unanimously July 23, the
Common Council discussion was more contentious.
“The only reason
we’re doing this now is because of Foxtown,” said Alderman Brian
Schneider, who noted that the project already has started and will
occur regardless of whether an incentive is awarded. “They’re just
coming back to ask for it because they know they’ll get it.”
“I don’t know
that’s the case – and you don’t know that’s the case,” she said.
Gierl said he doesn’t believe the Foxtown project will end if it
doesn’t receive an incentive. He argued that even though the Common
Council must return and authorize specific expenditures, he has no
doubt that will occur.
“There is no end
to the wishes that we can come up with,” he said. “We’ll find ways
to spend this money. That’s where this is going – and I won’t vote
argued that amending the TIF is a logical and necessary step to
ensure the success of the growing Town Center.
Strzelczyk said the additional expenditures will properly finish the
“When I took
office, it was a sinking hole,” he said, adding that the TIF
amendment provides “some funding to some final touches on the area.
We’ve had a couple great developments that frankly I didn’t think we
had an idea could exist.”
that there is no risk to the city with the developer incentives
because the project must be built and occupied before any funds are
Nerbun agreed, noting that the Common Council’s approval simply
provides the city “flexibility to pay for things in the future,”
including a parking lot on city-owned property west of City Hall.
The city sought bids for that lot and rejected them Wednesday
because they were significantly higher than anticipated. City staff
now will revisit plans for the parking lot, looking for a variety of
ways to save money.
“If you vote no
on this, you remove the flexibility to do that,” he said. “It’s
going to make the City Hall parking lot a Mequon taxpayer problem
instead of a TIF problem.
In the end,
plans to amend the TIF district passed with the no votes coming from
Glenn Bushee, Brian Schneider and Gierl, who cast his vote by
saying, “Absolutely not!”
<<EARLIER:Two Foxtown projects move forward in Mequon