August 13, 2009

Plan Commission delays action on incentives for building new homes

A proposal designed to encourage more city, county and Racine Unified employees to build homes in the city is being sent back to the drawing board for revisions.

Aldermen Aron Wisneski and Terry McCarthy had proposed giving employees tax breaks and free or reduced priced lots if they agree to build a new home in the city.

But McCarthy said during Wednesday's Plan Commission meeting that that tax component of the idea was legally unworkable. Under the law all properties in the city have to be treated the same, he explained.

The setback doesn't necessarily doom the program. The city can still give away land for new homes at reduced prices and McCarthy asked city staff to study other incentives they can offer people to build new homes.

McCarthy also said he was open to including more people - possibly anyone interested in moving to the city - in the incentive program, and expanding the program to include renovations along with new construction. Adding renovations to the program would be a major expansion. Right now the city only has has four or lots that would qualify for new construction, according to City Development Director Brian O'Connell.

Eric Marcus, a member of the Plan Commission, said he strongly supported opening up the program to more people.

"I'm a strong proponent of not limiting this to city, county and RUSD," Macus said. "Let's open it to anyone who wants this."

Plan Commission member Elaine Sutton Ekes said the city needed to consider the broader question of whether the program amounted to using public resources for private benefit.

The Plan Commission voted to defer action on the proposal. McCarthy said he and would Wisneski would continue working on the idea with city staff and hopefully work out a new proposal to bring back to the committee.


  1. wait a minute. they just discovered the "uniformity clause" in the wisconsin constitution now???

  2. City, county and Racine Unified employees - that's BS, where do these guys come up with these ideas. How about alderman also - do you think anyone would notice.