Tomah council postpones TID resolutions

The Tomah City Council postponed action until its August meeting on several resolutions to amend three existing tax increment districts (TIDs) and the creation of a new TID.

The decision was made after confusion reigned at Committee of the Whole Monday night.

Steve Tremblett of MSA Professional Services was at the meeting to offer insight on the proposal. MSA is the firm that provides consultation on city planning.

The council was considering the following amendment for TIDs 8, 9 and 10:

For TID #8 the city is proposes an additional $2,272,400 of new territory to the existing TID #8 (downtown rehabilitation/conservation district). The location of the proposed parcels added would be the Chicago Milwaukee St Paul and Pacific Railroad yard, National Guard Armory and along the Tomah Recreation Trail/South Fork Lemonweir River.

For TID #9 and TID #10 the following two projects will be added to the project plan as eligible expenses, equipment purchases to support the TID (e.g. lawnmowers, heavy equipment) and the Tomah Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program (TOOHRP).

Tremblett outlined the proposal for creation of TID #11 to promote development on the Hwy 21 corridor. The area includes tche Interstate 94/WIS 21 interchange, Mudd Creek, and LaGrange Elementary School.

The base value of the district will be $3,108,400 (excluding personal property). The development forecast assumes $33,929,120 of new commercial development over the life of the district which would result in $10,731,938 of total tax increment. TID #11 would be a Mixed-Use District Tax Increment District.

The expenditure period will be from July 20, 2021 through July 20, 2036. The TID will expire July 20, 2041. The TID would exist to allocate excess tax increment to TID #8.

Much of the confusion focused on creation of a new TID. Tomah Mayor Mike Murray is skeptical of its development potential with some to the land bordered by wetlands. Murray, along with alders Mitch Koel and Nellie Pater felt action was being rushed until several key questions are clarified.

Murray questioned the logic of another TID "for the sake of creating a TID."

Some of those questions were posed by Dr. Mark Mueller, owner of Deer Creek Dental, whose office property is included in the TIF #11 boundary, despite his request otherwise. Mueller told the council he thought his property had been removed from TIF #11, only to learn it was not.

Mueller expressed concern of an area already many feel is congested with vehicle traffic will become worse with additional TIF development. Continued development of large apartment complexes on Berry Avenue only stand to increase traffic flow, Mueller said.

He agreed with Murray, Pater and Koel that TID #11 needed more thought before approval. Although two years off, Tomah Public Works director Kirk Arity reminded the council a significant road expansion/improvement project is planned for the 2023 construction season that encompasses West Veterans/County ET.

Despite what may happen with another TID, traffic flow will improve. Alderman Lamont Kiefer attempted to ease concerns. Kiefer reminded the council that TID development is merely "another tool in the tool box" for Tomah to consider. There is nothing set in stone the city has to move forward. It was mentioned the city has until Sept. 30 to contact the Wisconsin Department of
Revenue of its intent to pursue another TID. The time will be used to find answers to questions that arose Monday night.

Tomah Administrator Brad Hanson told the council there is interest from two parties in development in a TID #11 if created.

The ongoing narrative for the location of a proposed Tomah emergency services building took another turn following the Tomah City Council Tuesday night. The council came out of a 90 minute closed session with "no action" regarding an update on a proposed site.

But following the meeting Tomah Public Safety director Tim Adler confirmed it was determined during closed session the site known as the Kasten property is no longer considered cost effective for the city to pursue for the building. Adler said he informed Russ Kasten, a representative of the property owner, of the decision. Kasten was at the meeting.

While not willing to specify at this time, Adler did say other city owned sites are being considered for the building.

According to information at the June council meeting an archeological study from 2003 found that the front portion of the Kasten land has organic material and building here may require additional work and costs. Potential alternative sites were discussed at that time.

Despite what evolves between now and the August council meeting , Tuesday night alderwoman Shawn Zabinski expressed concern how discussion unfolded during Committee of the Whole.

Zabinski expressed concern about "council behavior" during Committee of the Whole. Zabinski feels the council was not given ample notice prior the meeting of potential site concerns.

"I hope in the future the council can have a better handle on communications so this does not happen again," Zabinski said.

Point of note, Adam Thorson attended the meeting as a representative for Pete Thorson. Pete Thorson owns property on the west side of Superior Avenue at the Jefferson Street intersection.

Pete Thorson is working to build favor with the city to consider development of the project on that site.

In other business:

Council approved a resolution to create a full-time public safety executive assistant, actually restructured from an existing position. It was noted the present billing clerk is not at the correct pay grade for responsibilities required.

There is no back-up support for this position at this current time and the annual number of calls continues to increase. There is also a need for help when it comes to administrative assistance on the fire department business.

Council will consider at resolution to create the position as a wage Grade I and to abolish the Tomah Area Ambulance Service bookkeeper position.

The council tabled any discussion on allocation of money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

The city is slated to receive $983,570 from ARPA. It has already received $491,785.20 with the remaining coming sometime in 2022. City department staff has met to provide input on how to allocate the money. Some slated for this year and other that can wait until 2022.

Hanson indicated there is no urgency with council action it can be delayed until another meeting if desired.

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