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E DITOR The almighty TIF money

To the editor: The “Almighty TIF Money.” All that Harland Schraufnagel, owner of Abbyland Foods, has to do to get what he wants is dangle the carrot of TIF money in front of our city administrator, mayor, planning committee and aldermen. Approximately two years ago, the Schilling property acquisition and zoning was railroaded through. Some city aldermen did not know of the deal before the meeting to vote on it. Here we are two years later. The building of the five apartment is barely done, and the city wants to rezone part of the Schilling acquisition so that two more apartments can be built.

The planning committee meeting planned for late March was cancelled last-minute because the city administration finally listened to people that the meeting was not necessary business at the time of staying Safer at Home during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite still being under the Safer at Home order, the city administration has set up a planning committee meeting related to rezoning for the apartments. As soon as that meeting is done, there is a city council meeting to vote on the planning committee’s actions that were just decided — within a few hours.

The city administration, planning committee members and aldermen are being blinded by the shiny TIF money. The original project is not done. The soccer field and playground areas are not done. The ground is not seeded. The courtyard among the apartments and landscaping around the apartments are no done.

How can an addition to this unfinished project go forward? Shiny TIF money. That’s how.

While the apartments were being built, there has been a stabbing, one attempted murder and recently multiple police agencies were at the apartment complex.

All five the apartment buildings have not been occupied for two months. A few bad apples are ruining the reputation of the tenants of those apartments. Until the original project is completed and until the crime improves, the Schilling property should not be rezoned. Period.

We were told that these apartments would be wonderful for the city, and that they would be awesome. So far, they are not.

Any other business owner has to present their proposition to the city planning committee and city council before the owner can go ahead with their plans. However, Harland Schraufnagel/Abbyland can have everything set up and ready to break ground. He can go to the planning committee (discussed in closed session to boot) and get the green light to proceed within the same day. Why? Shiny TIF money.

TIF money has limitations on how it is used. The TIF money can only be spent the designated zone. It does not reduce the burden on taxpayers or benefit other areas of the city.

The process for the planning committee has been flawed. The closed sessions, if looked at closely, were possibly illegal.

I feel there should be at least a three-year moratorium on any rezoning of the Schilling addition. Also, there should not be any rezoning in Abbotsford until the city updates its comprehensive plan. Right now, the city is flying by the seat of its pants and whoever flashes shiny TIF money in front of their noses.

Maybe the name Abbotsford (Bedford Falls) should changed to Harlyville (Pottersville).

Paul and Nina Writz Abbotsford

Climate change still demands our attention

To the editor: It is hard to write about more bad news as we suffer though COVID-19. However, climate change, another major concern, is not going away.

Science had predicted the consequences of the virus but our society was not prepared to address it early enough. We are also unprepared to address climate change, even though science tells us it’s happening and getting worse each day.

Let’s hope we can learn from the COVID experience and address our climate issue now before it becomes catastrophic.

A bipartisan bill in Congress, H.R. 763, Carbon Fee and Energy Innovation Act offers a solution to the issue. It will reduce carbon emissions by at least 40 percent in 12 years. It is revenue neutral and good for the economy. In fact, it is endorsed by over 3,500 economists, including many of the most preeminent, fed chairman and Nobel Prize winners. More information about the bill can be found at the Citizen Climate Lobby website.

Please call, write or email your Senators and Congressman and tell them to support this bill. As we approach another election cycle, find out which candidate supports the environment and vote accordingly.

Michael Pesko Rice Lake