Common Council Facing Another Vacancy; TID District Outreach Continues

By Al Stanek
Whitewater Banner volunteer staff

The City of Whitewater’s 2nd Aldermanic District will likely have its fourth new Common Council representative in nearly as many years. The City’s seven Common Council members generally serve two-year terms before deciding whether to stand for re-election.

Matthew Schulgit, who was elected to represent the primarily student district in 2020, announced Wednesday night that he has been accepted into medical school and will be vacating his post at the end of May.

Matthew Schulgit was appointed in August of 2019 to replace his brother, Jimmy Schulgit, who had initially been appointed to fill the position vacated by former 2nd District Alder James Langness. Both Langness and Jimmy Schulgit also resigned from the Common Council upon graduation from UW-Whitewater.

Two of Whitewater’s seven aldermanic districts are comprised primarily of UW-Whitewater students. The City’s other primarily student district (District 5) is currently represented by Generac Engineering Manager Greg Majkrzak who in April defeated Alliant Energy employee Neil Hicks in a close recount election that was decided by a 62 to 60 vote. Majkrzak was appointed in late 2020 to fill the position vacated prematurely by McKinley Palmer who was originally appointed to fill the position vacated by Stephanie Goettl.

This month’s resignation of Matthew Shulgit created a vacancy on the City’s Alcohol Licensing Committee that Alderman James Allen was elected to fill.

The City’s aggressive public outreach campaign as they embark on an effort to create new Tax Incremental Districts (TIDs) continued Wednesday night with a joint meeting of the Common Council and members of the City’s Plan and Architectural Review Commission and Community Development Authority. TIDs are a commonly used economic development tool that allow a municipality to fund infrastructure and project development costs with the new property tax revenue generated by development projects within a district’s boundaries. Earlier this year the City of Whitewater closed out its previous TIDs which had been created over 20 years ago and in total will be adding new tax revenue to the City and its “cooperating jurisdictions.”

Attendees of the joint meeting were shown several early staff-generated “short-term” and “future” proposed TID boundaries. The ultimate configuration of Whitewater TIDs requires multiple publicly documented city actions along with the blessing of a “Joint Review Board” consisting of representatives of Jefferson and Walworth Counties, the Whitewater Unified School District and the two technical college boards. The “cooperating jurisdictions” are all recipients of tax revenues generated by annual property bills mailed out by the City. Some residents of Whitewater live in Jefferson County and others in Walworth County and each county distributes taxes to a different technical college.

Wednesday’s meeting of the three city bodies overseeing TID creation featured an update by Greg Johnson of Ehlers and Associates, the City’s public finance advising firm. Johnson was asked if city TID efforts usually get good cooperation from Joint Review Board agencies. “We usually see a general understanding that city growth and economic development benefits all jurisdictions,” said Johnson. “The cooperation of other jurisdictions with development led by the city adds horsepower,” he added.

Johnson told attendees that once a TID is officially created a figure known as the “base value” is established. It is essentially the current value of the property within the TID upon creation. All participating jurisdictions (school district, technical college, county, and the city) continue to receive only their proportional share of tax revenue on this “base value” until the TID is closed.

The “increment” of increased taxes generated by improvements within a TID after creation is dedicated to project costs used to provide infrastructure and incentives to attract district tax revenue expansion and is managed by the city. Upon the closing of a TID any remaining funds and subsequent annual increased tax revenue within the old TID’s areas are shared by all participating jurisdictions.

As the lead agency a city does have an obligation to make up any shortfall of project costs versus increased incremental tax revenue, according to Johnson, but a commonly used development mechanism called “Pay-As-You-Go Agreements” with developers requires them to fund all development costs upfront with repayment from the future incremental tax that was generated.

Citizens with TID questions are encouraged to contact city staff members for additional information. The next public outreach opportunity will be a presentation to the Greater Whitewater Committee and a Virtual Town Hall Meeting on May 13th. Watch ‘The Banner’ for details.

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