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Janesville Road Businesses Could Get Additional Boost from City

Interest in business renovations accompanies Janesville Road facelift, prompting city planners to consider extending special taxing district so businesses would be eligible for loans.

Some businesses along the Janesville Road corridor have come under fire for looking like eyesores, so the city is considering helping them out by extending a special taxing district - which would make them eligible for low-interest loans.

Tax incremental financing districts are set up by cities to encourage business development. Typically, TIF districts are used to fund public improvements, like sewers and roads, on new development.

However, Muskego and other cities also use TIF funds to make loans to businesses within a TIF district, Owners use that money to make improvements to their businesses, which should boost their property values. The additional tax revenue generated by the improvements then goes toward paying off the loans.

Muskego's TIF 8 district includes businesses along Janesville Road east to Lannon Drive, but not beyond that. Jeff Muenkel, city planner, told the Community Development Authority Tuesday that it might be time to consider expanding the district west for several reasons.

According to Muenkel, interest from businesses in the current district has been light; however he has received favorable response from businesses like Muskego Beer and Liquor and Delta Restaurant, which fall outside of the district. These two are planning on improvements to their buildings as the Janesville Road project moves west in 2013 to complete construction from Lannon Drive to Racine Avenue.

In addition, the TIF district still has about $375,000 in loan funds available, and could help improve those businesses by offering rates of about half the prime rate, or about 1.75 percent.

Muenkel explained that the process can take several months.

"It's a fairly involved process, as there will need to be a joint review board put in place, including the school district, the county technical college as well as county and city representatives," he said. Public hearings would also need to be scheduled during the process.

CDA member and Alderman Rob Glazier echoed the feelings of the board in saying, "We have all these tools available to businesses, but the challenge has been to get the businesses interested and involved to use them and take advantage. Maybe the road plans will get people thinking more about what they could do."

"We don't want to just throw money out there, either," Glazier added. "However, we need to challenge ourselves to find opportunities to spur development."

Muenkel will work on formalizing a proposal for further discussion at the CDA level. The CDA meets again on Oct. 16.

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