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Perfect question

We thank Marathon County supervisor John Robinson for asking the perfect question of Wausau business group representatives Dave Eckmann and Chris Ghidorzi during last Friday’s discussion of amending that city’s Tax Incremental District (TID) No. 7 to donate $3.5 million in surplus to a Wausau Center mall redevelopment project.

He asked whether the spokesmen and their respective organizations, the Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce and Greater Wausau Prosperity Committee, should join the county to oppose statemandated limits on county tax levies given that the requested TID donation would spur new development and permit both Wausau and the county to raise taxes due to “net new construction.”

Both Eckmann and Ghidorzi said they couldn’t speak for their board of directors but would relay the question to their organizations.

Fair enough, but we feel Robinson’s spot-on question demands a real answer.

The standard business position on local taxes is that they should be capped. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), for example, advocates “a strong property tax cap that limits future levy growth for local governments to the value of new construction.”

The pointed question here is whether the Wausau business groups support the WMC position because, when tax incremental finance is used, it typically results in property tax increases, but after businesses get financial assistance.

Is that these groups’ “conservative” business philosophy?

Editorial by Peter Weinschenk, The Record-Review