Now that the smoke has cleared and the City of Racine Common Council has voted to lend Machinery Row developer Rodney Blackwell $4.5M; who will undoubtedly pay top dollar to bail out property owners stuck with parcels of questionable actual market value and hand out large Christmas Bonuses to select individuals (FOJ’s)* involved in the realty transactions; it is time to ask the question:
*Friends of Realtor/Lobbyist/Adviser and occasional Mayor of Racine,
Jim John Dickert Ladwig.
Is it even legal for The City of Racine to use monies from the IG Sewer Fund to fund the Machinery Row land purchase?
December 17,2014, from The Journal Times:
City approves loan — Aldermen agree to lend Machinery Row developer $4.5M
RACINE — Financial District Properties will receive $4.5 million in city funds to launch its $65 million redevelopment of the city’s Downtown riverfront dubbed Machinery Row.
After more than an hour of debate with impassioned pleas from those for and against the agreement, the City Council voted 11-4 on Wednesday to approve lending the developer the funds.
Machinery Row stretches over 20 acres of riverfront property north of Water Street and east of Marquette Street. The development area encompasses all of Azarian Marina, 726 Water St., and two large former industrial buildings constructed by J.I. Case Co. between 1908 and 1915.
The $4.5 million loan to FDP will come from money in the city’s intergovernmental revenue-sharing fund. Fed by dollars Racine receives each year from neighboring communities via a sewer agreement, the fund is intended to help Racine spark development within its borders. No city property tax dollars will be used.
FDP will use the money to buy the properties of three separate owners and gain full site control. FDP needs site control to meet a Dec. 31 deadline and finish its business with the state of Wisconsin to obtain $9 million in historic tax credits that are a crucial part of the complex financing package.
The council’s vote also cleared the city to borrow $1.8 million in intergovernmental revenue-sharing funds to buy two other buildings in the Machinery Row corridor: a warehouse at 526 Marquette St. that houses a motocross track and the former Case Plow Works at 615 Marquette St.
The agreement with property owner Rick Olson had originally included those buildings, but Olson changed course later on, saying he wouldn’t sell the building inside the project area unless he received more money for the two outside the project area, officials explained.
Note that The JT reported the unattributed remark: “No city property tax dollars will be used”. Why did JT Publisher Mark Lewis – who sits on the RCEDC Board alongside
Jim John Dickert and John Jim Ladwig feel compelled to include that remark? And of course – it is completely false! Plenty of City of Racine property tax dollars have been spent on staff time, planning, meetings and preparation. Much more will be spent in the future. City Administrator Tom Friedel admitted to as much when the Porters project failed – “hard money v. “soft money”. Staff time is NOT free time.
Janurary 31, 2014, from The Journal Times:
No financing district money to remove Porters building; no city dollars were spent
RACINE — Porters of Racine property owner Micah Waters will not be using tax increment financing money when he begins “deconstructing” the historic building to make a clear development site.
Waters told The Journal Times Thursday he was dropping plans for a $6 million historic renovation of the former high-end furniture store at 301 Sixth St. The project would have converted the 80,000-square-foot building into 37 market rate apartments and enough ground-floor retail space for up to seven storefronts.
Both Waters and City Development Director Brian O’Connell said Friday that Waters’ company, Signature Architecture, will not tap into TIF money to remove the Porters building.
“That’s not what the development agreement was for,” O’Connell said. “So, no. And he has not approached us for anything like that.”
Nor has Waters used any City money to this point, he and O’Connell pointed out. The development agreement provided for about $1.1 million in financial assistance for the Porters redevelopment project and another $160,000 in facade grant money, O’Connell said.
But none of that would have been available until after a development agreement was completed.
It was recently finished, “But, because (Waters) never signed the development agreement, he has never drawn any money from us,” O’Connell said. “So we don’t have a dime out the door.”
“There was a lot of staff time, but no hard dollars,” added City Administrator Tom Friedel.
“We never received any funds from the TIF or facade grant,” Waters said Friday, “and the project was done entirely at our own cost.”
Who pays for Staff time? Does City Administrator Tom Friedel even know? Or does he believe it is The Tooth Fairy? Of course the Taxpayers pay for staff time – through their noses with the outrageously high property taxes levied in Racine! And if Waters didn’t receive any monies from the TIF or facade grant – did he receive monies from OTHER funds? Where is the evidence that no funds were provided?
As for Brian O’Connell’s claim – “(Waters has never drawn any money from us,” O’Connell said. “So we don’t have a dime out the door. ” which is backed by…. nothing but his word – it has already been proven that Brian O’Connell is a Champion Level Liar and Kickback Artist.
- see the post:
Play The Game! Kickbacks and Lies From Racine Director Of City Development Brian O’Connell
Then Publisher Mark Lewis of Journal Times – who also is a Board member on the taxpayer funded RCEDC and sits alongside fellow Board Members
Jim John Dickert and John Jim Ladwig; is an employee of LEE Enterprises whose headquarters in Davenport Iowa are owned by FDP’s Rodney Blackwell, who also purchased the Lee Enterprise corporate jet from LEE Enterprises Mary Junck; prints the baseless claim that: The $4.5 million loan to FDP will come from money in the city’s intergovernmental revenue-sharing fund. Fed by dollars Racine receives each year from neighboring communities via a sewer agreement, the fund is intended to help Racine spark development within its borders.
REALLY? JT Publisher Mark Lewis claims that: “the fund is intended to help Racine spark development within its borders” What does Mark Lewis base his claim on?
It’s time to look past the lies being promoted by The JT, Mark Lewis,City of Racine Officials, John Dickert, Brian O’Connell, and actually see what the IG Sewer Agreement limits The City of Racine to spending IG Sewer funds on.
The creation of the IG Sewer fund can be found in the City of Racine Ordinances, Division 9, Sec. 46-268 through Sec. 46-269 and reproduced below:
• DIVISION 9. – INTERGOVERNMENTAL REVENUE SHARING FUND
• Sec. 46-266. – Created.
There is hereby created a fund to be known as the intergovernmental revenue sharing fund, into which fund shall be placed all revenue sharing contributions disbursed to the city from the wastewater commission in accordance with the Racine Area Intergovernmental Sanitary Sewer Service, Revenue Sharing, Cooperation and Settlement Agreement dated April 25, 2002, (the “agreement”) and all interest payments from loans of funds under this division.
(Ord. No. 4-03, pt. 1, 2-19-03)
• Sec. 46-267. – Funding.
Any and all monies received under section 46-266 shall be retained in the Intergovernmental revenue sharing fund and disbursed only for use for capital projects specifically required by the “agreement”, which shall not be subject to section 46-268 below, and for capital projects and associated costs and expenses where such projects have private investment and result in taxable real estate development or job creation/retention, or are unique tax exempt projects that eliminate blight and result in tangible indirect increases in taxable real estate or job creation/retention. Monies from this fund shall not be used for any other purpose and shall not be transferred to any other fund.
(Ord. No. 4-03, pt. 1, 2-19-03)
• Sec. 46-268. – Administration.
The intergovernmental revenue sharing fund shall be administered by the common council. The common council shall solicit the recommendation of the redevelopment authority of the city regarding the eligibility of proposed projects. Projects resulting in tax base creation shall have a minimum ratio of $5.00 in net new tax base for every $1.00 of public investment in projects where there is not a loan payback to the city. No minimum ratio of tax base creation for loan capital shall be required. Commercial and industrial projects shall be eligible for consideration if a project creates a minimum of one full-time equivalent job for every $50,000.00 of non-loan capital granted under this division or one full-time equivalent job for every $100,000.00 of loan capital provided under this division. Funding requests that do not meet the standards may be considered and granted upon two-thirds vote of the common council.
(Ord. No. 4-03, pt. 1, 2-19-03)
• Sec. 46-269. – Earnings.
The earnings upon the deposit, loan or investment of the intergovernmental revenue sharing fund shall remain in and become part of such fund.
Note the last half of City of Racine Ordinance Sec. 46-267, which states: : and for capital projects and associated costs and expenses where such projects have private investment and result in taxable real estate development or job creation/retention, or are unique tax exempt projects that eliminate blight and result in tangible indirect increases in taxable real estate or job creation/retention. Monies from this fund shall not be used for any other purpose and shall not be transferred to any other fund.
Where did The City of Racine find the authority to write this portion of the Ordinance? If it is in violation of the IG Agreement – it is NULL and VOID – was this deliberately written to fool the People? And where is the objections and enforcement actions from the outlying Communities whose Sewer monies are being used outside of the limits prescribed in the IG Sewer agreement?
As for the entirety of Sec. 46-268 – it is also almost completely NULL and VOID – except for: “The intergovernmental revenue sharing fund shall be administered by the common council” – which allows the Racine Common Council to disburse IG Sewer Funds as proscribed by the “Agreement“.
Which means that it is time to review the “Agreement” and see what it actually allows – and disallows – and if The City of Racine can use IG Sewer Funds to loan money to Rodney Blackwell for Machinery Row – or even Facade Grants to local Tavern and Business owners such as Joey LeGath and Doug Nicholson – whose wives also sit on the Civic Centre Commission and where Millions of $$$ disappear down a black hole.
Download your own copy of the latest 187 page Racine Area Intergovernmental Sanitary Sewer Service, Revenue Sharing, Cooperation and Settlement Agreement dated April 25, 2002 by clicking HERE.
Racine Exposed cuts through page after page of definitions and specified performance and gets you to the good stuff – where it is explicitly spelt out what The City of Racine can and cannot do with IG Sewer money which is collected from Mount Pleasant, Sturtevant, Caledonia, and other outlying Suburbs.
From page 67 – 68 (76 – 77 in the PDF due to blank pages) of the “Agreement”, which specifies a “Joint Impact Zone” and “Three Mile Road Improvement”.
And from Pages 68-69 of the Agreement:
So, according to the IG Sewer Agreement, the only current legal expenditures by The City of Racine, in regards to IG Sewer money are limited to a maximum of $600,00 per year and to be spent on:
1. The Racine Public Library
2. The Racine Zoological Gardens
3. Charles A. Wustum Museum.
While all other monies are reserved for the benefit of the Wastewater Utility. However, there is a Sunset clause also inserted which expected these payments to end by 2007. It is now 2014 – and those payments should have ended.
Which means that the action taken by Mayor John Dickert and The City of Racine Common Council is ILLEGAL, in violation of the “Agreement” and Wisconsin State Statutes – but will be allowed to stand – unless properly challenged!
So which Community will be the first to challenge The City of Racine’s illegal use of IG Sewer money? Mount Pleasant? Caledonia? Sturtevant? Aldermen from The City of Racine? Other smaller communities who are parties to the agreement?
And where is the voice of Republican Robin Vos? The silence is deafening! Sure – his legislation limited the ability for Municipalities to raise the property tax rates on their Residents and Businesses – he has silently allowed The City of Racine to impose more onerous property taxes – via Sewer and Water rates – upon the Suburbs they serve, driving out more Businesses and Residents to fund projects (illegally) like Machinery Row.
And where is the voice of silently complicit Mount Pleasant Village Trustee John Hewitt and Village of Sturtevant Trustee Chris Larsen – both on the Wastewater Commission?
Werewolves of London?
NAH. They are Werewolves of Racine – sucking the life out of Businesses and Residents who are not politically connected.
BAU – Business as Usual. City of Racine style.
See also the post by Belle City Reporter: Fear at City Hall or get me my Money so I can get the hell out!
From The JT via the AP:
Wisconsin budget faces $824 million hole
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s state budget would be $824 million short just to continue the current level of services.
That is according to a new analysis released Friday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
It looked only at what it would cost the state to continue funding levels over the next two years at their current levels, making no concessions for expenses like new tax cuts or potential cuts that would save money.
The state constitution requires the Legislature to pass a balanced budget. Gov. Scott Walker is in the process of putting together his tax and spending plan for the next two years, which he will introduce to the Legislature early next year.
New revenue estimates will be released next month, which could improve or worsen the state’s budget picture.
Meanwhile, Former Racine NAACP President, George Stinson has been arrested and charged with Felony 1st Degree Child Sex Assault – Sexual Contact with Person under Age of 13
Remember to play the Game of Racine!