TID approved for old KYF site

Photo by mensatic via MorgueFile.com

Photo by mensatic via MorgueFile.com

At last night’s Finance and Common Council meetings, a resolution proposed by Mayor Keith Bosman to create tax incremental district (TID) #15 was approved.  This is the property that represents the old KYF Building in Library Park, in downtown Kenosha. The vote was unanimous at the Finance Committee meeting, 5 to 0 (Alderperson Tod Ohnstad was not present), and also at the Common Council meeting, 14 to 0 (Alderpersons Eric Haugaard, Jesse Downing and Ohnstad were not present).

At the Finance Committee, John Fox spoke against creation of the TID.  He said that he expressed his concerns at the last City Plan Commission meeting.  (To read about this meeting, click here:  TID Approved by the City Plan Commission.)  His objections were two-fold.  First, when the re-zoning was done on the property, he said that there was no mention on the TID being created.  Also, a question was raised at that meeting by two of the commissioners as to the property’s blight condition.  He said that two of the commissioners were not sure that the property was more than 50% blighted.  He also said that there was no formal city inspection done on the property, only one by the property owner.  Secondly, this is the first TID for 100% housing.  It would be setting a precedent for the future.  He stated that he hoped that the commission would not approve this.  He said that he talked to assistant city attorney Jon Richardson, and Richardson’s comment was that he hoped the inspection had been done.

Alderperson David Bogdala questioned the checklist that was provided in their packets.  Zohrab Khaligian, community development specialist, stated that that was the inspection.  He stated that a formal city inspection was not required.  “A vacant and deteriorating building equals blight,” he said.  A videotape was taken of the interior of the property, which was shown at the City Plan Commission meeting on December 6th.  “It was staff’s opinion that, because of the deterioration, that the building was blighted,” said Khaligian.  The City Plan Commission also concurred in this determination.

Bogdala said that he went through the property last year.  He asked if the city inspectors had gone inside, and Khaligian said that they did.  They did a walk-through.  He (Khaligian) and Mike Kolovy videotaped the interior.  Bogdala wanted to know if the checklist was from the statute, and Khaligian said that it was.  Bogdala wanted to know if there were a predetermined number of factors that needed to be present, and Khaligian said no.  It was completely subjective.  Bogdala said that he was supporting moving forward.  He concurred with the blighted recommendation.  “We don’t need another empty building.  We need to improve it and keep this historical building from deteriorating any further,” he said.  Alderperson Rocco LaMacchia agreed with Bogdala.

The other item related to this item was another resolution proposed by the mayor to adopt a project plan for TID # 15.  This resolution was also approved unanimously, even though Fox again objected.  “Based on this checklist, you’d have to blight 75% of the city of Kenosha.  This is taxpayers’ dollars that are being spent.”  He stated that he did not feel that the building was 50% blighted.  He again mentioned the two commissioners at the City Plan Commission who said that designating the building blighted “was pushing it.”  Those two members were Alderperson Anthony Kennedy and Jan Michalski.

Fox again said that designating the TID was setting a precedence.  He said that the TID money doesn’t go into the general fund.  Fox said, “The owner bought it to rehabilitate the building.  I think we should check the process.  I would also question the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).  This is costing the taxpayers money.  Shame on government.”

Frank Pacetti, the city administrator, said that he wanted to clear up an incorrect characterization of how a TID works.  “The amount of the tax value is frozen.  Without the investment, the current value can change.  It’s the ‘increment’ without the investment.  It’s used to supplement and incur development.”

Bogdala said that these two items were related.  He stated that his biggest concern was the investment of $300,000.  “If we don’t put the money in now, the building will continue to deteriorate.  We have an opportunity to get the building maintained.  The payback will be in ten years.  It would cost at least that much to tear down the building.”

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