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Fate of Harrison TIF plan decided tonight

POSTED September 26, 2017 8:11 p.m.

HARRISON — Members of the board that will decide the fate of the proposed Townof Harrison Tax Incremental Financing district were noncommittal on whether they would vote for or against the TIF district at today’s Joint Board of Review meeting.

The TIF district would be formed around Kieler Farms’ expanding concentrated animal feeding operation to finance improvement projects for the region. The projects would focus largely on road upgrades, as heavy machinery will be using the surrounding streets to reach Kieler Farms.

The Town of Harrison Board voted 2–0, with one abstention, to create the TIF district Sept. 12. The Joint Review Board will be at the Town of Harrison building today at 5 p.m.

Public comments at town meetings included doubts about whether the TIF district is a financially sound investment since the cost of funding TIF district projects falls onto taxpayers if the development fails. 

Some voting members of the Joint Review Board also asked questions about the viability of the creation of the agricultural TIF district when asked how they would vote.

“Several residents of the area have reached out to me to express their thoughts on the topic and provide their perspective on the process as well as their thoughts about the proposal,” said Southwest Wisconsin Technical College president Jason Wood. “I will say most of the people who have outlined their opinions have expressed concern and frustration,” though he added, “There are additional questions to be answered during the hearing,” and that he was still “in the process of learning more about the proposal in preparation for the meeting on the twenty-seventh.”

Grant County Board chairman Robert Keeney added that the “overwhelming response from the public and County staff/board is a question on the feasibility of creating a [TIF district]. It has been pointed out a few times ... that one of the big But For is would the economic [growth] happen without [the TIF district], and that seems obvious.”

Platteville Public Schools superintendent Connie Valenza said Monday night she didn’t know how she would vote.

“I feel I need to give it a full and thorough hearing Wednesday night,” she said.

Valenza pointed out at the Aug. 28 School Board meeting that PPS will not receive $666,000, Southwest Tech will not receive $78,000, and Grant County will not receive $253,000 from the TIF district’s increment over its lifetime. She added, however, that “It’s not really a loss to the school district; it’s a failure to increase.”

Town chair Nate Niehaus and treasurer Wesley Richards, chosen by the town board as the citizen member of the Joint Review Board, did not respond to emails from The Journal.

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