Top administrators of the town and city of Beloit crossed swords Wednesday in the wake of the town’s filing of a petition seeking village status.
Town Administrator Ian Haas said in a statement that the city broke off negotiations about boundaries after the town filed its petition Tuesday, something he said didn’t have to happen and that has soured relations between the municipal neighbors.
Haas’ statement apparently is a reaction to City Manager Lori Luther’s statement issued Tuesday, in which she objected to the town’s petition, saying the move was bad for residents.
Haas’ statement says “Ms. Luther and the city council have made the decision to cease negotiations, citing the filing of the incorporation petition as the cause. I would like to be very clear that there is absolutely no basis in fact or law for Ms. Luther’s statement.”
Haas goes on to say the two municipalities could continue negotiations and that the town is committed to doing so.
“If negotiations are to cease, it is due to the city’s choice of tactics and nothing more,” Haas wrote.
The town is seeking village status for most of the town, leaving a “remnant town” that might be brought into the village later, Haas has said.
The city is able to annex portions of the town, but it would not be able to annex portions of a village.
Haas’ statement continues: “Furthermore, what is troubling is the city would choose to cease negotiations when the town had recently made (what we had considered) a very generous counter offer in the boundary negotiations. This counter offer would have been beneficial to the residents of the city as well as the town and could have helped solve some of the current service-provision issues the city is faced with. It seems that the city has chose instead to oppose a process that will very likely end with a new village, regardless of their actions. Not only will this decision harm the residents in the city of Beloit but will also further strain an already tainted relationship.”
The Gazette could not reach Haas for comment Wednesday.
Luther responded to Haas in another written statement Wednesday night after The Gazette asked for comment: “The town filed its incorporation petition before the city even had an opportunity to respond to the offer received just last week. The city was under the impression negotiations would continue and was completely surprised by the town’s action.
“Our understanding is that the boundaries included in the town’s petition are inconsistent with our negotiations. The petition, as filed, cannot be amended through negotiations and, by filing the petition, the town has made it impossible for the parties to narrow their differences,” Luther continued.
“We will likely have further comment over the coming days after we have had an opportunity to review the petition in its entirety,” Luther concludes.
It wasn’t clear whether town and city officials have communicated their differences other than through statements issued to the news media.
Haas concludes his statement by saying: “I am more than happy to clear up any misconceptions Ms. Luther or the city council are operating under if they are able to provide specific issues, as opposed to broad strokes.”
The Beloit City Council is scheduled to hold a closed meeting Tuesday night to discuss the town’s incorporation petition “and possible boundary agreement,” according to an agenda published Wednesday.