The city of Ladysmith is altering existing Tax Incremental Districts as work continues on building a new $40 million hospital and converting a former school into a community center with attached workforce housing.

The Ladysmith Joint Review Board made up of city, school, county and technical college representatives reviewed proposed new TID boundaries at its Aug. 13 meeting. 

A TID’s equalized value plus the value increment of all existing districts in the municipality cannot exceed 12 percent of the municipality’s total equalized value. Ladysmith is currently at 13 percent and is paying to have some properties appraised and others removed from an existing TID to get below the state cap.

The existing TID 9 currently includes land roughly from Mount Senario to the intersection of Wis. 27 and Miner Avenue. A proposal calls for removing a portion near Mount Senario.

The proposed new TID 12 would include the Lindoo Avenue former elementary school property the city wants to convert into a community center with attached workforce housing. It is being created as a blighted district to assist with redevelopment, mainly through taking in contributions from other TID donor districts.

The city’s plan commission will hold a public hearing at 5:15 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10 at city hall to receive input on the proposal.

At one point, a proposal called for the new hospital to be designated for TID 12 and the Lindoo Avenue school to be designated as TID 13.  The TID designations have been switched with hospital development now on hold as TID 13 and the school redevelopment likely to occur sooner as TID 12.

TIDs are created consecutively, and the former school TID is in a position to move along more quickly because the hospital project has essentially been set back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We just switched their order. We still intend to pursue TID 13 in the area of the hospital with a creation date of Jan. 1, 2021,” Ladysmith Industrial Development Corporation Secretary Al Christianson said.

Christianson also said officials are considering new TIDs 14 and 15 that are currently early on in the valuation planning stages

Eligible projects within the boundaries of TID 9 and 12 include public improvement projects and costs associated with site redevelopment including cash grants that may be made to owners, leasees or developers of lands within the modified TID boundaries. The proposed costs include projects within the proposed boundary and within a half-mile radius of the proposed district boundary.

The city is working with private developers to renovate the former school for workforce housing. The city is seeking Community Development Block Grant funds for a planned community center and other recreational improvements. These include parking lot improvement and expansion, community center sign, pond fence, basketball courts, building remodel, street reconstruction, Corbett Avenue drainage improvements and outdoor recreational facilities including skate park relocation with a total project cost of $1.74 million.

Brea Grace, a community development specialist for the engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson, told the joint review board the city’s combined TID values decreased $3.8 million this year,  but the city’s total equalized value also decreased $588,200. As a result TID values still remain above 13 percent, higher than the state cap.

“Before we can create a new [TID] district or add property to an existing district we have to bring TID property below that 12 percent,” Grace said. “That is why we are looking at removing properties from TID 9. We are looking at pulling property out of this district and simultaneously creating TID 12. Statutorily, we are able to do this simultaneous subtraction and creation, so that is what we are working toward.”

The timeline for the TID alterations calls for the public hearing with city council action on Sept. 28 and joint review board final approval within 45 days of council action.

Property appraisals are still being conducted.

“We seem to be moving in the right direction to pull enough value out of TID 9,” Grace said. “We want to make sure we are subtracting enough properties to be below that 12 percent and considering what changes might happen to equalized properties next year we still need to be below that 12 percent.”

Blight designation at the Lindoo Avenue former school site would address proposed renovation at a facility called by board members as “obsolete” and “outdated.” They pointed out the building has been twice recently vandalized by intruders setting off fire extinguishers.

“That designation will allow us to do some renovation at the school,” Grace said.

As a blighted area, a new TID 12 would have 22 years on expenditures and 27 years to recoup those expenditures.

City officials cite potential of TID 12 to attract more investment to the area.

Redevelopment of the former school could add up to $2.05 million in new value generating $2.5 million in property taxes.

A similar approval process is expected to take place next year on establishing a proposed new TID 13 for the planned new hospital.

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