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PPS ponders Harrison TIF
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The Town of Harrison Board is expected to vote Tuesday on creating the town’s first Tax Incremental Financing district in the area of the Kieler Farms Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.

If the Town Board approves the TIF district, the TIF Joint Review Board — which includes representatives of the other districts to which property taxes are paid — must approve the TIF district at its meeting Sept. 27.

One of those Joint Review Board votes belongs to Platteville Public Schools superintendent Connie Valenza, who described herself as “struggling” over whether or not to support the TIF district’s creation.

TIF districts are created by cities, villages or, now, towns to develop property that is either blighted or undeveloped, through borrowing that is repaid through the increase in the value of the property in the TIF district. While the municipality creating the TIF district gets higher property tax payments through the property value increase, the other taxing entities — in this case, PPS, the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College district and Grant County — will not until the end of the TIF district, slated for no later than 2033.

“It’s a little bit of a stretch to consider it a loss,” said Valenza at the Aug. 28 Platteville School Board meeting, while adding 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. “It’s not really a loss to the school district; it’s a failure to increase.”

The state Department of Revenue specifies a “but-for” test for approving a TIF district — whether without the TIF district’s creation development would not occur, and whether economic benefits — including employment, business and personal income and property values — would exceed the cost to taxpayers of both the TIF-creating municipality and the other taxing districts.

The difference between Harrison’s proposed TIF district and other TIF districts is that the Harrison TIF district is being created after construction has already started on the Kieler Farms CAFO.

“What Harrison township will tell you is … it’ll save one way or another those taxpayers,” said Valenza. “Kieler Farms is in the district, but it’s really not Kieler Farms’ district. … This is about the town investment going to Harrison township in lieu of the Platteville school district, the technical college district” and Grant County.

The proposed TIF district would be one of five within PPS’ boundaries. The other four are in the City of Platteville — the Platteville Industry Park, the Keystone development, the Platteville Industry Park expansion and downtown.

Neither the Harrison TIF district nor Platteville’s four TIF districts affect the school district’s biggest source of state aid, which is based on student enrollment. However, TIF districts do affect equalization aid, which is based on property value within the school district.

“It does have the impact of shifting that cost to residences,” said Valenza. “There are some in the Platteville school district who already feel we are already somewhat a highly taxed district.”

The two School Board members who spoke did not seem supportive of the proposed TIF district.

“This doesn’t really meet any of the but-fors,” said school board member Curt Timlin.

“The project is infrastructure for Harrison township,” said school board member Steve Obershaw. “I’m not very supportive.”

 The Town of Harrison Board meeting is Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. 

CORRECTION: The printed version of this story in The Journal Sept. 6 incorrectly reported the date of the Town of Harrison Board meeting.