Thu June 21, 2012
La Crosse mayor vetoes tax rebate to Kwik Trip
La Crosse’s mayor has vetoed the city’s most recent tax agreement with major convenience store chain Kwik Trip.
Mayor Matt Harter says it’s not in the best interest of the city to grant tax incremental financing (TIFs), tax grants, and other subsidies to private projects. Plus, he does not want to favor one company over another.
Last week, the La Crosse City Council approved a “reverse TIF” agreement with Kwik Trip. Essentially, the company would build a new dairy facility and receive a certain percentage of their taxes back: about $425,000 over four years.
City Council president Audrey Kader says the council could override the veto. She says past TIFs in downtown La Crosse and industrial areas have sparked economic development: “All of these have created employment opportunities, construction opportunities, and they have created commerce opportunities.”
Kader says in most cases, the developments would not have happened without the TIFs.
Some people have criticized the plan, saying it’s a handout to an already successful major company.
UW-Whitewater Economics Professor Russ Kashian says he tends to agree: “The government is picking winners and losers, saying, ‘We’re willing to give money to this business,’ which implies they’re not willing to give it to another business. So, the government is basically making bets over one industry over the other.”
Kashian says many municipalities are currently taking longer to pay off TIFs due to the decline in real estate values.