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Decision by Wisconsin Supreme Court affirms cash payments to developers in TIF deals

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The widely misunderstood but frequently used developer financing schemes known as TIF districts just got a little more friendly for developers.

A Wisconsin Supreme Court decision this week could make it easier for developers to do business in cities like La Crosse.

It’s among the cities in Wisconsin that rely heavily on the use of tax incremental finance (TIF) districts to sweeten the pot for developers who wouldn’t otherwise build in the city.

The case filed against the city of Eau Claire challenged the city’s ability to use money generated by the complex TIF districts to make cash payments to developers.

The city of La Crosse has had a total of 17 TIF districts, including those for industrial giants like Trane and Chart Industries but also for giant mixed-use developments like Three River Rivers Plaza.

Of those 17, 12 are still in existence. Five have been retired and the money generated from the building projects in those districts is now going to all layers of local government.

 

The city of La Crosse relies heavily on TIF financing to push private development projects along.

City economic development planner Andrea Schnick said the city always uses a standard that it doesn’t provide TIF help unless a developer wouldn’t do a project without it.

In a written statement, Schnick also said, “TIF is a very valuable economic development tool for our community and La Crosse has a strong history of successfully managing TIF projects and (TIF) districts.”

Schnick agreed with the court’s decision and says she is not surprised by the verdict.

The Eau Claire case had been watched closely because of the impact it could have on the massive Foxconn development that’s just started in Racine County.

 

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