Wausau News: Finance director pushed TIF bill, records show
Weekly Wausonian for March 17, 2022
Wausau’s finance director initiated the push for a legislative bill that would have increased Wausau’s ability to provide tax incentives to developers above state limits, records obtained by The Wausonian show.
Finance Director MaryAnne Groat wrote emails to State Senator Jerry Petrowski to ask for his support in the bill that would have let the city create a new TIF district and exceed state standards for how much land can be included in such districts.
TIF districts allow the city to borrow against future tax revenue to fund projects, often helping spur development in blighted areas where that development otherwise wouldn’t happen. But, the state puts limits on how much land value can be locked in districts because they limit tax revenue going toward other taxing entities such as the school, state and technical college system.
Records show Groat lobbied for legislation that would allow the city to exceed those limits. Council members learning about the bill were incensed since lobbying state lawmakers for legislation is a policy decision that should be made by an elected body.
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An ethics complaint against City Council Member Deb Ryan was dismissed this week, but not before an admonishment from the Ethics Board. Ryan was accused by County Board Member and judicial candidate William Harris of slandering him and threatening to get him fired in connection with the city’s A Community for All resolution.
Around the metro
The SAFER Fire District has narrowed its list of candidates for fire chief down to five. SAFER’s fire chief resigned earlier this year, and officials won’t say why. The district will interview candidates March 16 and then make a decision.
A former Mosinee teacher who was fired after being accused of sexual contact with a student is now suing the school, school officials and police. Cristy Mathis in her suit filed in federal court says the charges stemmed from her asking a student to put away her cell phone; the student retaliated by saying Mathis touched her inappropriately. Mathis alleges no one asked for her side of the story before she was arrested. The charges were later dismissed for lack of evidence.
The village of Kronenwetter will hold a forum for its candidates March 29, 7 pm at its municipal center. Kronenwetter had a record eight candidates for office this year. They were narrowed down to six in the primary in February. Those six will vie for three spots April 5.
The Burger King in downtown Wausau has closed its doors for good, WAOW reports. The downtown fast-food chain restaurant had been operating as a drive-through-only business since the pandemic started.
One the flipside, long-time mall staple Mongolian BBQ has now opened in Rothschild. The restaurant opened on Grand Avenue in the village, down the road from Polito’s Pizza, according to a Facebook post by the village of Rothschild. Attempts were made to keep the restaurant downtown when the mall closed but those attempts fell through.
This week in data
I heard a stat from the folks at Childcaring this week that the numbers of child care providers had dropped to 93 providers in the whole county. I asked the Childcaring providers for numbers from each year so I could put together a data visualization showing the decline. I put this graphic together using the Matplotlib library in Python (now coded in the Mu editor, since Replit doesn’t seem to be working right anymore).
The Grand Theater announced this week that it’s ending its mask mandate for shows. The organization had previous ended its vaccination proof requirement to attend shows but still required showgoers to wear masks but now has dropped that requirement too. The change comes as COVID-19 cases in Marathon County and elsewhere continue to plummet. Some individual shows might still require COVID-19 restrictions, however.
Saturday, March 19: Gin Mill Hollow definitely looks the part of the all-American bluegrass band. Armed with beards and upright basses, the group channels influences ranging from The Wood Brothers to Bob Dylan and beyond. Check them out at Intermission (otherwise known as The Mish) in downtown Wausau starting at 9 pm. Check out the event page for more info.
Friday, March 18: Nathan Timmel bills himself as not as serious as Plato, but lighter than Socrates. (Plato was pretty heavy though, for real.) That probably gives you a sense of Timmel’s comedy as he takes on Bantr, the former Grand Lodge at Cedar Creek. The show is the latest of the comeback shows for Koo Coo’s Comedy Nest, which used to be a physical location. Its owner now puts on shows at Bantr instead, keeping comedy alive. See the Facebook event page for more info.
Saturday, March 19: If you haven’t seen the Slopestyle competition at Granite Peak, it’s a total blast. Watching skiers and snowboarders do all those cool Sean White-esque tricks is a blast. The only event that might be more fun is the one where they try to ski and snowboard across a giant puddle. That’s coming later in the year. The competition starts at 11 am.
The weather has started to warm up just in time for spring sports practices to kick off. Baseball and soccer practice kicks off Monday, and softball on Tuesday. Tennis and golf practice kicks off the following week.
Several Wausau and Stevens Point fighters fought in the PURE FC 22 event held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Stevens Point. Here are the results. One fight that is not included in the results: Devin Lutovsky of Stevens Point won his match by decision.
Today’s pick will probably make me look a bit stodgy, but I’m a huge early America buff, including pre-revolution, revolution, and post-colonial periods. John Adams is my second-favorite figure from that era (my first is Benjamin Franklin), and I’m now reading David McCullough’s Adams biography for the second time. What I admire about Adams is that he always did what he thought was right based on his principles, even when it made him wildly unpopular. He and Washington both thought party politics were a stain on the union. Despite being a revolutionary, he defended legally British soldiers following the Boston massacre, because mob rule was abhorrent to him. He was flawed as all the founding fathers were, but that only makes Adams more human. I think about Adams when I have a tough story to write.
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