The city is getting pushback from the Madison school district regarding the Judge Doyle Square project.
In order to finance the project, the city needs to use tax incremental financing, or TIF, which diverts a portion of property taxes in a designated area for development. But that means other taxing bodies -- Dane County, Madison schools, and Madison College -- will have to temporarily sacrifice tax revenue.Mayor Paul Soglin and his staff are expected to begin negotiating with developer Bob Dunn, who has proposed a $216 million project and requests $98 million in city investment. Dunn is seeking $21 million in TIF.
Judge Doyle Square sits within an established TIF district that is slated to close in 2022. The city has until 2017 to make expenditures from that district, although those would have to be approved by the Joint Review Board, a five-member body made up of members of the four taxing authorities.
On Feb. 6, the Madison school board wrote to Soglin asking him to close the TIF district. If it closes, $16.7 million in reserves would be distributed among the taxing bodies, with the school district getting more than $7 million.
Soglin has said the city won't close the district but would look for ways to advance the district some of the taxes it would otherwise get. David Schmiedicke, the city's finance director, says "We're looking at options."
School board member TJ Mertz -- who represents the district on the Joint Review Board -- says the idea sounds convoluted. "It sounds like [Soglin] wants to borrow money to give the school board to allow [the city] to borrow money to build a hotel," Mertz says. "From a few short quotes in the newspaper, I really can't make heads or tails of what he's talking about."
"We're doing some good things partnering together in a variety of ways," Mertz adds. "I hope this extends to the financial and economic development process."