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Waukesha considers filtering TIF dollars toward Oberlin development

Common council will vote on issue at next meeting

May 23, 2014

The Oberlin Filter development is moving forward with the help of a tax incremental financing district.

The Plan Commission recently recommended the common council approve of the 25-acre TIF District for nine acres of land between 809-831 Silvernail Road.

The council will consider the proposal on Tuesday, June 3, Community Development Director Steve Crandell said. It will also then go before the Joint Review Board.

The Plan Commission also approved Oberlin's final site plan at its meeting May 14.

Oberlin Filter Co., an international firm, manufactures filters for the coolant, metal finishing, chemical processing, water treatment and food processing industries.

Oberlin, which currently has a 50,000-square-foot building at 404 Pilot Court, is looking at relocating and expanding into a 90,000-square-foot building just west of Bluemound Road on the city's north side.

Tax-funding a move

According to city documents, Oberlin's relocation and expansion wouldn't be possible in the city of Waukesha without TIF assistance.

The city will provide $975,000 in tax incremental financing assistance. The funds would be paid back through new taxes generated by the improved property.

The funds should be paid back within 12 years, city documents note, but they could be paid back sooner if additional industrial expansion occurs when the second phase of expansion is completed on the Oberlin site.

According to city documents, the current value for the proposed Oberlin site is about $1.12 million. There are currently seven parcels in the district with an overall district value of $4 million.

Upon competition of Oberlin Filter, a family-owned and operated business, the expansion will add $6.5 million in tax base as well as preserve 75 family-supporting jobs and add 20 to 25 jobs.

Clearing the way

However, Oberlin's new site has development challenges for a new industrial development. These include demolition of existing structures, environmental mitigation, stormwater conveyance, site work and higher land costs.

"Relocating and expansion on this site will be more costly than building a new facility on a greenfield (land) in another location, but (without) TIF assistance this industrial location/expansion would not be occurring in the city of Waukesha," city documents note.

Crandell expects the Oberlin project to be a catalyst for future industrial growth in the district. More than 50 percent of the land within the district is considered suitable for industrial development.

He said this district was created to retain a local industry, promote industrial growth, increase employment and broaden the tax base to relieve the tax burden of city taxpayers.

Supporting documents echo that concept, and the key role of TIF dollars in the ultimate goal.

"Tax Incremental District No. 23 is being created to encourage industrial development and redevelopment of declining property suitable for industrial use and support reinvestment," city documents note. "Tax incremental financing is the best tool the city has to work with to pay for infrastructure improvements, development incentives and cash grants to promote industrial use development and expansion on declining property."

City documents note that the company explored other locations in the county but wanted its facility to remain in the city.

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