Ashland TIF proposal under tough scrutiny

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 13:12:05-04

The use of TIF or tax increment financing is creating quite the stir in the city of Ashland.

The city is considering using tax increment financing for a project that would bring in 150 homes, retail space and the city's only hotel.

The developers who own the Whitetail Run property wants the city to use TIF to help them build the property by bringing in water and sewer into the area since it’s currently underdeveloped.

But this would be the first time TIF has ever been used in the city and it’s causing some backlash.

“There's going to be pretty big burden placed especially on the school system,” said Bob Luebbe who is one of the main opponents of the city using TIF.

Luebbe’s main concern is the TIF taking away tax money from the Ashland-Greenwood school district. He’s been going through the numbers and says TIF for this development will shift taxes away from the schools and according to him the school district could lose about $1.3 million in future property taxes.

“We're asking the developers are they willing to guarantee that the state will always backfill those shortages for the next 15 years of that TIF bond and if they guarantee that will they do that in writing,” said Luebbe.  

Ashland Mayor Richard Grauerholz said they need to use TIF because city doesn't have the money upfront to provide the construction for the utilities to reach the property.

“We don't have a tremendous, a large budget to take on large projects that without either raising taxes tremendously or issuing bonds that somebody would have to pay back,” said Grauerholz who points out the economic benefits this project could bring as well, “bring more customers into business and develop a larger base for our local realtors to work with.”

But others like Ashland resident Ron Styskal think the developers are getting a golden deal, “Outside developers shouldn't come in here get rich off the tax payers here in this town.”

Styskal said city leaders are listening to their concerns, “they don't seem to care.”

However Grauerholz said they've done their due diligence, “We feel that we have been as open and as convenient, we've had public meetings.”

At 7 p.m. the Ashland city council will meet on Thursday will vote to annex the land talk about the future of the project.