Town of Beloit to hold informational meeting on incorporation

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TOWN OF BELOIT—The idea that part of the town of Beloit become a village is not going away.

The town board voted 5-0 Monday to hold an informational meeting so town residents could comment and ask questions.

Board member David Russell made the motion and said his company would pay to print the postcards that he said should be sent to invite every town resident. No meeting date was set.

“This is bigger than the five of us. I want to know what everybody has to say,” Russell said.

The informational meeting should include an attorney to answer questions, Russell said.

Several residents opposed village incorporation and suggested the move would benefit the eastern, more developed side of the town, to the detriment of the western, more rural side. Others said the answers to a variety of questions, including changes in who gets how much tax revenue from the Alliant Energy power plant, were unclear.

Chuck Kuecker noted that a major reason for incorporating is to keep the city of Beloit from annexing more of the town.

Let the city do it, Kuecker suggested, and let the city handle the costs of providing services.

Kuecker said he moved his family to the town to live in a rural area.

“What’s wrong with a cornfield? Why do we have to keep developing?” Kuecker asked. “Can’t we live the way we are?”

Jim Olson, a former town board chairman, said he had pursued the idea more than 20 years ago. Times have changed, he said, but “the city still wants our properties.”

Olsen recommended the board conduct an analysis of the pros and cons and share them with residents, “because you hear people talking, but they really don’t have the information.”

Then, put the question to a referendum, Olson said.

Olson seemed in favor of incorporation, saying taxes would rise for those annexed into the city, and the town has quality police and fire departments that most want to keep.

Resident Amelia Russell said most of the town board lives in the area that would become a village, and she accused them of favoring incorporation because of that. The board needs to consider what would happen to the part that remains a town, she said.

“You guys are here for everyone, not just for that end of town,” she said. “… People are going to be upset, and there will be lawsuits, because you know not everybody’s going to go for it.”

Town Police Chief Steve Kopp, speaking as a resident, said the concerns people have are valid and should be explored, but just saying “no” without exploring them is like the captain of the ship not using lifeboats because not everyone can fit in them.

The board should act in the best interest of the majority of residents, Kopp said.

Resident Cathy Erickson asked where the dividing line would be, and why the town would have to be divided.

Town Administrator Brian Wilson said state law allows incorporation only of areas that can be developed within five years, and it’s unlikely that all of the town’s 26 square miles fit that description.

Those areas to the west would continue to be a town, with a board, and could forge agreements with the new village to continue getting police, fire, road and other services, Wilson said.

“So should it change anything for you? It really shouldn’t,” Wilson said.

The town might even find an advantage in that it wouldn’t have to use the same building codes that the current town applies to all areas, rural or developed, Wilson suggested.

Wilson said he is not an expert, and many of the questions being asked should be answered by a lawyer.

“I think we all need a lot more information,” Erickson said before the vote. “I welcome it.”

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