Financing district that will pave way for Cedar Vineyard project gets board approval
A tax incremental financing district that will pave the way for the Cedar Vineyard subdivision and improvements to Port Washington’s industrial park was unanimously approved last week.
The Joint Review Board created the district Aug. 19 after reviewing the projected costs and benefits of the district, which will encompass 409 acres on the city’s south side.
City officials have been outspoken in their support of the TIF district and the subdivision proposal, noting the development will not only bring high-end housing to the community but a public nature preserve that includes the Cedar Gorge and Lake Michigan bluff.
The land includes the 227-acre Cedar Vineyard site, where 73 lots, a winery and vineyard are proposed to be created along Highway C, as well as a patchwork of industrial park land stretching from Highway C west to South Spring Street.
The costs include $7 million for infrastructure — costs that are projected to be paid off within 16 years.
The direct benefits of the district include an estimated $72 million increase in the city’s tax base and a significant increase in manufacturing jobs, according to a report by Christy Cramer of Trilogy Consulting, the city’s TIF consultant.
“Obviously those increases in taxes won’t be realized until the district is closed,” she said.
That’s because in a TIF district, taxes generated by improvements on the properties pay for the infrastructure over the length of the district.
Cramer estimated the TIF district could result in an additional 1,147 jobs over its life. Of these, she said, 512 jobs would likely be created during the first phase, when the subdivision and some of the industrial park work is done.
Board member Karen Makoutz, the Ozaukee County treasurer, questioned the method used to estimate the job numbers, saying it’s unlikely the winery and vineyard would create that many positions.
But board chairman Doug Biggs, a city alderman, said that many of these jobs will result from improvements to the industrial park.
Cramer acknowledged the numbers may not hold up over time, but noted they are an estimate.
“It’s really dependent on what type of businesses would come in, and that’s a very difficult thing to say right now,” she said.
Eric Ryer, the citizen representative on the board, said the TIF district will be good for the city.
“I think it’s a good plan,” he said. “It looks like the lots (in the Cedar Vineyard subdivision) would sell and the nature park would be a great asset to everyone in the community.”
City Administrator Mark Grams said the key to the district are the numbers.
“It’s clear the TIF increment generated over 20 years will be able to pay the costs,” Grams said. “To me, that’s obviously the key, that it can generate the increment (taxes) needed to pay for the TIF borrowing.”
The Joint Review Board is made up of representatives of all the taxing districts — the City of Port, Ozaukee County, Port Washington-Saukville School District and Milwaukee Area Technical College — as well as a citizen member.