May 21, 2009

State bill would extend Racine tax district 10 years

A proposed state law would keep a good thing going for the city.

The special tax district the city created in 1983 to build its marina is set to retire next year. The district worked, creating $84.5 million in new development and $1.1 million a year in additional property tax value.

But so far, all that new money has gone toward paying off the loan needed to build the marina (and other tax incremental districts in the city). None of it has gone to pay for schools or government services.

That's set to change next year when all of the $1.1 million of development in "TID 2," as it's known, is scheduled to go onto the general tax rolls. That would mean $343,200 to Racine Unified, $147,400 to the county, $58,300 to Gateway and $542,300 to the city itself.

The state law proposed by Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, would extend the life of TID 2 by 10 years - and prevent all that tax revenue from going to other local governments. That may seem crazy, especially after the city has waited 27 years to benefit from this development. But there's method to this urban planning madness.

Mason said the city is looking at redeveloping the former Walker Manufacturing site along Lake Michigan and an area along the Root River, which all falls into the existing TID 2. But to get the property ready for a developer, the city needs money to clean up the land. That's where Mason's law comes in.

Extending TID 2 would give the city money to clean up the land and it get it ready for development, Mason said. The alternative is to retire TID 2 and create a new tax district for the Walker site and north of the Root River. But that district would be in effect for another 27 years.

In other words, the city is looking to extend TID 2 for 10 years to avoid creating a district for nearly three times as long, Mason said.

The proposal is targeted specifically at Racine. It's supported by State Reps. Bob Turner, D-Racine, Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee, and Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. Sens. John Lehman, D-Racine, Jeff Plale, D-Milwaukee, Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee, and Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha.

The bill has a good chance at passing, Mason said. Four or five similar bills pass the Legislature every year, he said.

The problem with TIDs is the delayed payoff. While the city benefits by corraling all of the tax dollars, other local governments are cut out of the tax picture. Racine Unified will lose a minimum of $3.4 million over the life of Mason's bill.


  1. How did our boys vote on giving illegal immigrants instate tuition at our state colleges?

  2. A newly created TID doesn't have to be in effect for 27 years, in fact for an industrial site, I think it can only be in effect for a max of 20 years!

    They could close out that giant TID right now and let the other taxing entities start benefitting from the marina and set up a new TID (in fact they may want to do two smaller TIDS to lessen the risk to taxpayers) for any length of time it takes for the increment to equal the project costs - could be 5 years, could be 10 years.

    This is nothing but political doublespeak to continue to depend on the increment from the Marina (since I'm guessing the base value was next to nothing) to fund other projects. In the meantime, everyone pays in lost revenue to the County, Gateway and Unified.

  3. So

    The State end a tax rebate program (Film Wisconsin) that only rebated a part of the production cost of films, that last year helped to bring jobs for 100's with only 1.5 million to rebate film TV production has ended as well Raven in Madison will not only end expantion but will most move to Texas with 300+ jobs.
    but on the other hand keep a TID going that in the 20+ years they had to get the job done were unable to do do so lets give the same fools another 10 years so they can continue to do a poor job.

  4. Here is yet another broken promise made by our government. What's to stop them from extending it another 17 years when the ten is over. Creating a funding mechanism like this is setting a dangerous precedent. Unified and the other entities have done their part in waiting the allotted time. Wonder if they have any say as to whether to extend the life of the TID?

  5. This TID should end !! Start another one for 5 years. If you can't get it done in 5 years there is something wrong-right realestate mayor ?? Why is Mason doing this ?? Does he live in Racine city ?? Unified and others need the money. How about taxpapers ??

  6. With a tax on everything and a fee for anything that may resemble a service, why not tax my ass too!

  7. TaxedTooMuch5/23/2009 2:55 PM

    Anon 1:01PM, give them time, they'll get around to that too. The only thing Dickert understands about real estate is how to line his pockets from it, and he doesn't give a rip about the ethics involved in doing so (he's proven that in the past, it's a matter of record).

    If the city council wants to pass a law, they should pass one that forces the government to keep its promises: when a tax is scheduled to stop, it should stop. Voting to "extend" a tax that's slatted to cease makes the original promise to do so into a lie. It's no different from making your 60th and final car payment, only to have the finance company come back and say, "We need you to continue making payments on your car because we can't afford to lose the income." The city council in Racine is going to do what's good for the city council and Dickert is going to do what's good for Dickert. The ones to blame are those that voted these fools into office.

  8. The city is looking at budget cuts from the state and worker layoffs and it is going to spend $542,000 per YEAR for 10 years to clean up some dirt?

    Call your Alderman to find out what the hell is happening to our city:

  9. Who manages this TID area? Lets follow the money!

  10. To follow the money, just look in Dickert's pocket. It will wind up there.