LETTER: TIF is not meant to be used to increase profits for developers

An architect’s drawing shows what St. Mary’s School atop Port Washington’s St. Mary’s Hill would look like after Ansay Development converts it to an apartment building with 25 to 35 units. The firm has asked the Common Council to create a TIF district to fund some of the project. The school, which is being phased out by St. John XXIII parish, has educated Port Washington children since 1916.


To Ozaukee Press:

I read the news story in last week’s Ozaukee Press headlined, “Ansay seeks TIF funds for apartment projects.” I am not sure tax incremental financing is applicable or necessary in this situation.          

TIF was designed to channel funding toward improvements in distressed, underdeveloped or underutilized parts of a jurisdiction where development might otherwise not occur. I wasn’t aware Port Washington was distressed, underdeveloped or underutilized and needed to offer such incentives to successful developers.  The school won’t be vacant for another couple of years and I am sure if it hit the open market there would be several developers bidding for the property who won’t be seeking financial assistance from the taxpayers.

I think the projects Ansay is proposing are beautiful and hope they are completed. I just don’t think the taxpayers have to provide financial assistance to a successful, highly profitable development company.  

The developers knowingly bought properties that had deficiencies such as asbestos and soil contamination, and I am sure that helped in negotiating the purchase price. I don’t understand why the taxpayers have to provide them financial assistance to have those issues corrected.

Also, I have a hard time believing that they will “walk away if this doesn’t work.” Ansay is a very successful, profitable company. It has done several projects in and around this community.  It’s a company filled with highly experienced and knowledgeable developers.  I am quite certain if the taxpayers don’t provide financial incentives to them, they can still find a way to complete the projects and still be profitable. 

In these situations, the only thing the financial assistance does is increase the profit margin for the already successful developers who knew what they were getting into when they bought the properties. I don’t’ see why the taxpayers have to bail them out. 

If these types of deals are contingent on financial assistance from the taxpayers, maybe the taxpayers should have been aware of the request before Ansay purchased the properties, not after. It seems like a situation where it is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.      

Allen Kuhl

Port Washington




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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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