Downtown Wausau mall redevelopment remains shrouded in secrecy

July 12, 2022

Wausau Pilot & Review: Downtown Wausau mall redevelopment remains shrouded in secrecy

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Wausau Pilot & Review’s Shereen Siewert wrote about a major downtown development that so far has remained under wraps, despite the prospect of large public subsidies offsetting the costs of the project.

“Some residents and council members say they are unhappy to be left in the dark about the amount of money taxpayers will be expected to pay to support the project, at a time when some are already balking at subsidizing high-end development within TIF districts…

TIF defenders routinely point to rules in Wisconsin and some other states requiring that the developer must certify that “but for” the TIF, the project would not happen. The certification aims to protect the public interest by ensuring that the subsidy is not a corporate windfall, but that the subsidy is leveraging the project.

Critics, including the nonpartisan Good Jobs First, reject that notion, because so much is kept secret, as is happening in Wausau.

“Simply put, the ‘but for’ language enables the developer to say ‘trust me.’ At the end of the day, public officials and the general public never really know what factors drove the company’s decision.”

Excerpt from Good Jobs First 2022 TIF report

Read the full story at Wausau Pilot & Review

Read Good Jobs First’s FAQ on Tax Increment Financing