An affordable housing/TIF update and other news tidbits
First off, Happy New Year! The Wausonian is still going strong, and I look forward to another great year of bringing you the news no one else will. Check out our look back at Wausau news in 2023 to see some examples.
An interesting item that was somewhat lost in the shuffle recently is that the city council voted to extend TIF District No. 6 another year in order to fund affordable housing. The council elected to forego spending any of that extra money on lead pipe replacement, focusing all of it on affordable housing.
That money isn’t going to new projects though. It’s going to shore up all the current projects that are likely to have funding gaps.
What are those deficits? Let’s take a look:
Thomas Street infill: $1.25 million in eligible construction costs plus $750,000 in post-construction eligible costs.
Sherman Street multi-family development: Extention costs up to $500,000 (This replaces a project on Wyatt Street the city council rejected.)
West Side Battery: Extension costs up to $550,000 (Gorman and Co. is building affordable housing here after two restaurant proposals fell through.)
700 Grand Avenue: Eligible extension costs up to $3 million. (Vino Latte once stood on this site, and later a community garden and orchard that’s since been moved.)
That all adds up to $5.3 million. Right now the estimate is that TIF 6 will generate about $4 million but that’s a very rough estimate that could change soon following a revaluation.
The city could have closed TIF District No. 6 — that would have brought that tax revenue to the city. That would have lowered taxes for residents to some degree.
Related to that, Noah Smith has an interesting post on which states are building affordable housing. Smith includes a post including evidence that more housing lowers building costs, contra to the Scott Alexander post I shared earlier.1
Minocqua Brewing Co owner suing to have Trump removed from ballot
Minocqua Brewing Co. owner Kirk Bangstad announced he is suing the Wisconsin Elections Commission in order to have Donald Trump removed from the ballot in Wisconsin, following the move of Colorado’s Supreme Court last year.
Bangstad filed a complaint with the WEC prior to this move, but the WEC’s staff attorney told Bangstad they refused to hear the complaint. Bangstad then announced he would be filing a lawsuit and is trying to raise $100,000, the amount he believes the litigation will cost.
Bangstad made news in mid-2023 for his fight with Oneida County over whether he would be allowed to keep his license. The county says he has been serving off premise (his concrete porch extends beyond the confines of his building) but Bangstad says he is being discriminated against for his liberal views.
Bangstad also lost a defamation suit brought by Lakeland Times owner Gregg Walker and owes him $750,000. According to the court, Bangstad defamed Walker by claiming he left his brother to die in a hunting accident in the 80s (among other claims) — but by all accounts Walker wasn’t anywhere near his brother at the time of the accident. Bangstad claimed media was biased against him when they reported the results, including singling out Wisconsin Public Radio. Rob Mentzer’s story, as far as The Wausonian could tell, simply relayed the court decision and arguments made in court.
Bangstad likely is banking on a liberal majority in the state’s Supreme Court to uphold the ruling. Colorado’s Supreme Court decision has since been appealed, and Trump is considered back on the ballot while parties await a ruling. Many expect Colorado’s ruling to make it to the Supreme Court, which would be one of the first times the 14th Amendment was considered by the higher court. (The amendment was intended to prevent Confederate leaders from rejoining government.)
Election season will be another busy one
On Saturday morning we published a breakdown of who was running — and ended up having to edit it several times. Why? What looked like would be four contested city council races turned into seven, then six when we learned that William Harris had dropped from the race. But since that district 3 seat will feature a new candidate — Terry Kilian, if no one else pops up by 5 pm Tuesday — that means there is the potential for seven of the 11 city council members to be brand new.
Only one candidate, Catherine Kronenwetter, has taken out paperwork but not yet filed nomination papers.
And apparently the county clerk’s office was busy Friday evening because I still missed several updates before scheduling my post. Three incumbents as of Friday morning hadn’t turned in any paperwork — by the end of Friday that was reduced to one.
As it stands, it looks like there will be 11 contested county board races and word is that more are coming. And ten current board members have said they’re not running again. Right now roughly half the board could theoretically change hands, and the candidates yet to file could add to that number further.
Also, Christopher Wood will be on the ballot; he collected the required signatures. I was doing a little New Year’s Eve cleaning and found my old cheat sheet for last year’s races. I’d totally forgotten but he’d run in 2022 for District 1 county board supervisor. Katie Rosenberg has also filed her signatures - Diny as of Friday’s update has not yet filed.
The deadline for all paperwork is 5 pm Tuesday. Following Tuesday The Wausonian will be following up with other municipalities around the area to get find out who is on the ballot in those communities. Meanwhile, read the updated Wausau and Marathon County elections post here.
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I don’t always agree with Smith but I really enjoy his writing because he thinks from first principles, as do I, and doesn’t just following a strictly partisan narrative.