Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Walworth set to create TIF district
Is a $5 million commercial development coming?

by Rob Ireland

September 22, 2011

WALWORTH — In the next 20 years, more than $4 million of industrial development, $7.8 million in homes and $10 million in commercial growth are expected in a proposed Tax Increment District in the village.

Some of this development is projected to occur slowly, but about $5 million in commercial building is expected in the next few years.

Where is the initial commercial growth money coming from?

David Rasmussen said as village president he is privy to discussion of possible commercial growth, but can't publicly share those plans because they involve private real estate transactions.

If those private deals fall through, Rasmussen said the village wouldn't have made any major investment into a Tax Increment District and Walworth, which is already cash-strapped, won't take a financial loss. TIF is a tool used to fund capital improvements in a community (see the side bar on page B3 for an explanation of a TIF district).

During the Sept. 13 Plan Commission meeting, Rasmussen told commissioners they would have to trust him on the commercial development possibility.

During the village's Sept. 13 Plan Commission meeting, an associate from Ehlers presented the board with a project plan for the creation of a TIF district.

The proposed district would include the Windmill Meadows Condominiums, which is set for a foreclosure sale in December; parts of the village's industrial park, including Onvoy; and the former Pick 'n Save location.

At the meeting, the Plan Commission, on a 6-1 vote, recommended the creation of a TIF district. Commissioner Laurie Larson was the dissenting vote.

"I've seen this movie before and it ends badly," Larson said.

After the meeting, Larson said she questions creating a TIF during uncertain economic times.

"I lived in a couple of communities where they have these, and they haven't worked out the way they were supposed to," she said.

A special Village Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m., to vote on whether to create a TIF district.

What are the plans for the district?

The project plan for Walworth's TIF district totals $1.9 million, which includes spending $400,000 on the reconstruction of Highway 14.

It also calls for $500,000 in development incentives for nonresidential development.

However, the lion's share of the project plan, just about $1 million, will be spent on utility, road and sidewalk improvements.

A proposed improvement within the industrial park would be building a road directly from Onvoy to Highway 14.

This would eliminate truck traffic along Beloit Street.

However, Rasmussen and Trustee Todd Watters said the board wouldn't spend money on any of these projects before increment is generated in the TIF.

"We have no intention of maxing this out and crossing our fingers," Watters said.

Increment is generated through appreciation and development. The $5 million commercial development would provide the village with increment, but if it falls through, the village doesn't have to spend money on any projects.

According to the documents provided by Ehlers, the benefits of creating the TIF include the addition of new commercial and industrial jobs in the village. It also would create additional residences for the workers.

For a TIF district to be financially successful, new development, improvements and increased valuation to existing private property is necessary.

The projected growth is expected to come from several areas within the district. The $4.5 million in industrial growth is an estimate that stems from the vacant land in the industrial park.

Ehlers considered value of developed property in the industrial park to determine the value of a potential new development. Ehlers also projects $5 million in additional commercial development around 2016, which would come from underdevelopment at the old Pick n' Save site.