It may be up to the legislature to end TIF abuse in Wisconsin
June 6, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision Wednesday in the case Voters with Facts v. City of Eau Claire.
WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said:
“We are disappointed by the decision of the court. It is our view that TIF abuse is a problem in the State of Wisconsin that invites local governments to provide favorable tax treatment for private developments. While today’s decision leaves taxpayers with the limited remedy of certiorari review, it does not ensure that municipalities will scrupulously adhere to the limits placed on TIF districts by the legislature. We will continue to closely monitor the use of TIFs by local governments and will not hesitate to challenge those that violate the law. But given the decision of the court, it may be up to the legislature to reform TIF laws to protect the taxpayer and ensure this abuse ends.”
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty represented Voters With Facts in a challenge to Eau Claire’s use of TIF (tax incremental finance) districts to hand millions of dollars to a private developer in order to build a new performing arts center and other buildings in its historic downtown district. WILL, on behalf of Voters With Facts, challenged the TIF arguing Eau Claire failed to follow the law because, among other things, the area included in the tax increment district is not blighted within the meaning of the law, and there is no basis to conclude that development in that area wouldn’t happen in the area without the TIF district.
Voters still has the opportunity to make that case based upon the record before the municipality and looks forward to the opportunity to do so.