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$75 million to be added to city tax base

March 19, 2014

The 14-year effort to redevelop State Street is reaching a turning point this month as the city prepares to put $75 million of new valuation on the tax rolls.

The redeveloped property will increase tax collections by an estimated $2 million annually beginning in 2015, said City Finance Director John Ruggini. The tax increase, which is dependent on the 2015 tax rate and the final valuation of the properties involved, will be divided among the city and its other taxing bodies.

The other entities sharing in Wauwatosa property tax are the school district, Milwaukee County, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the state of Wisconsin and Milwaukee Area Technical College.

The properties returning to the tax rolls include The Enclave, The Annex and The Reserve housing developments, and commercial developments including Outpost Natural Foods, Metcalfe's Market and others.

Incentives began in 2000

The property all was part of the city's tax-incremental finance district #3, a special taxing district that allowed the city to build or improve infrastructure and be repaid by collecting the increased taxation as property values rose. The district was created in 2000, and with the city's investment repaid, the properties that benefited become a part of the regular property tax collection.

The change — formally, an amendment to TIF #3 — was discussed at a Joint Review Board meeting last week involving representatives of the county, school district, MATC and the city.

A new project

Some $2.3 million in excess collections from TIF #3 will be folded into a new taxing district, TIF #8, that the city expects to create, encompassing a smaller area within TIF #3, especially targeting the former Western Metals site, east of the Walgreen's store, off State Street.

The site, which has multiple environmental challenges, is the location chosen by The Wangard Group for a planned 169-unit apartment complex. Wangard expects to spend as much as $25 million in construction costs, and the development is expected to add another $17 million to the tax base, said Ruggini and City Attorney Alan Kesner.

The city has committed $3.3 million in TIF financing to the project to build infrastructure and contribute to environmental remediation.

No poaching

Teig Whaley-Smith, economic development director for Milwaukee County, said at the meeting that his only concern about plans like this was that economic incentives should not be used to poach businesses from other Milwaukee County communities — for example, Wauwatosa enticing a West Allis business to move.

Alderman Dennis McBride noted that the kind of development growing in Wauwatosa — housing and retail — is growing organically from the population base and the demand for local employment, unlike, say, a manufacturing business, which can move.

The Common Council will review it April 15. The Joint Review Board may address this further at its April 23 meeting.

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