City looks to create new TIF in the downtown area

By Brandi Makuski

The Stevens Point City Council has green-lit a $15,000 proposal that would begin the process of creating a new tax incremental finance district in the downtown.

Council members in October unanimously approved the proposal from Ehlers, the city’s Waukesha-based municipal finance advisor, for creating TIF #10 without discussion. The proposal was made public one week following closed-session discussion on two apartment complexes in the downtown. Both will be located inside the new TIF, Mayor Mike Wiza said, along with several existing properties.

While the meeting agenda indicated Ehlers would give a presentation on the new TIF, no presentation took place. The meeting packet did, however, include several pages outlining the scope of work proposed by Ehlers, to include a feasibility analysis, plan development, and submittal process.

City Treasurer Corey Ladick said the new TIF would “overlap” with TIF 6, the city’s downtown TIF District.

Commonly referred to as a “TIF” or “TID”, the tax incremental finance district is a specific area—often blighted—defined by geographic boundaries in need of redevelopment. Within that boundary, according to Ladick, increases in property taxes as a result of increased value goes towards developing projects within the district. Property taxes inside the TIF are otherwise locked, he said, and the city receives that tax rate through the life of the TIF, which can span 15-20 years or more.

Creating the new TIF, Wiza said, would benefit multiple properties including the two new apartment building developments.

“It’s to encompass a bunch of properties that have changed since the original creation of TIF 6,” Wiza said on Tuesday. “When TIF 6 was created, Belke lumber was still functioning; Soik [Plumbing] was still very much in business.”

Wiza added while a TIF cannot be created to benefit solely residential lots, they can be a component.

“There are also TIF projects that focus on job creation, there are TIF projects that focus on redevelopment in general…for instance, the Lullaby site,” Wiza said. “Partially overlapping the new TIF with the existing TIF is, it allows us more opportunities on Lullaby. The advantage there is that you can extend your ability to redevelop something; by overlapping those areas you can get a development in under a new TIF and recognize the full 15, 20 years.”

Multiple proposals for the Lullabye Furniture property, 1017 Third St., have come before city leaders in recent years but none came to fruition, Wiza said, “for a variety of reasons”.

Wiza said the new TIF “basically makes a ‘C’ around the downtown”.

The downtown TIF—TIF #6—was created in 2006 and remained under water for several years, but Wiza said the council previously approved supplementing the downtown district with TIFs 5 and 7.

“The TIF itself is not making ends meet, but it’s not under water. It’s being supplemented by 5 and 7; otherwise, the taxpayers would be footing the bill,” Wiza said.

Creating a new TIF is a lengthy process, Ladick said, and involves approval by multiple committees and at least one public hearing. Hiring Elhers is just the first step, he said.