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Friday, December 08, 2017

Public Policy Group Takes Up Fight Against TIF District Abuse

God, how patient are thy poor! These corporations and masters of manipulation in finance heaping up great fortunes by a system of legalized extortion, and then exacting from the contributors-to whom a little means so much-a double share to guard the treasure! -- Robert M. La Follette, Sr.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to a Eau Claire TIF District, a case filed by the Right-Wing Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (“WILL”) led by attorney Rick Esenberg.

WILL is working on behalf of local taxpayers who say Eau Claire abused Wisconsin’s tax incremental financing (TIF) law.

WILL Excerpt:
The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the City’s actions in creating and amending two tax incremental financing (“TIF”) districts to fund certain aspects of the Confluence Project and, in particular to pay fees and expenses to the real estate developers involved in the construction of a student residence hall/mixed use facility. The suit alleges that the TIF districts are illegal for the following reasons:

The properties within the TIF districts do not meet the legal definition of “blight”

Development within the TIF districts would occur even without TIF money

The city council and the joint review board (a board made up of representatives of the different authorities that can tax property within the district) lacked a factual basis for their conclusions

The TIF districts lack a valid public purpose

The TIF districts violate the Uniformity Clause of the Wisconsin Constitution

TIF funds are unlawfully being used to reimburse the developer for demolishing historic buildings

In what should have been a torchlight policy fight by every progressive, liberal, lefty lawyer in the state of Wisconsin is instead taken up by the Right. Go figure.

But it's about time somebody challenged these abuses. They are a scourge against the free markets and a pox on good government, let alone that active TIF Districts can increase the property tax burden of those outside the TIF by as much as 30%. People then wonder why paving their roads and keeping their schools open seems so unaffordable.

According to a recent story from Madison Dot Com, the state's Attorney General Office (Brad Schimel) is sending counsel to intervene in support of the Eau Claire TIF District project against Esenberg's lawsuit.

That will set up some interesting dynamics worth watching between the Bradley Foundation funded WILL group against the Bradley-owned AG office and the Bradley Foundation majority state supreme court with TIF District right-wing engineered trickle-down economics hanging in the balance.

It's popcorn time! Stay tuned.

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