The Rock County Board voted unanimously Thursday to oppose the town of Beloit’s petition to incorporate as a village.
Board members’ opposition is driven by $1.1 million in tax revenue from the expanding Alliant Energy plant, which would go to the county if the town does not incorporate as the village of Riverside.
The resolution gives the county “a seat at the table,” board Chairman Russ Podzilni said. The county has no power to stop or expedite the process for incorporation, but it can offer an opinion on how the move could affect the county.
The incorporation plan is all about money, Podzilni said. The county board is obligated to consider the welfare of the 160,000 people in the county, not just the 6,200 in the town, he said.
Rock County currently receives two-thirds of the tax revenue from the Alliant Energy plant, while the town receives one-third. That would flip if the town incorporates.
Beloit Town Board Supervisor George Rath said the town would not force the county to take a cut in funding the year it incorporates.
He said the incorporation is not all about money, despite public opinion. The town wants to give residents control over where they live and prevent future annexation from the city of Beloit, he said.
The county board’s vote comes two days after the city of Beloit sent a letter to the town, asking for additional mediation with a neutral facilitator.
City Manager Lori Luther said the city and town need to discuss boundary negotiations, city growth and future shared resources.
Ultimately, individual landowners—not the city—are behind requests for annexation, Luther said.
The city wants what is best for everyone, Luther said. She expressed concern that residents on the town’s west side will not have a voice in the process.
Residents west of Afton Road will not initially be included in a future village because of population density requirements.
Rath said town officials have been in talks with west-side residents on how the proposed village could share resources with them.
Town Board Chairwoman Diane Greenlee, who spoke for absent Town Administrator Ian Haas, said she thinks more dialogue is needed between county and town officials.
Some county board members said Thursday they needed time to learn more about the incorporation plan.
An initial motion to table the vote ended in a tie. A second motion to table it was voted down, which eventually led to the unanimous vote on the resolution.
County board member Dave Homan said the town has not discussed how incorporation would affect the adjacent town of Rock. He had hoped to table the motion until that communication occurred.
Other county board members also raised concerns, including Louis Peer, who said he hopes the town includes west-side residents in the future, after incorporation.
Board member Brian Knudson called the issue a “one-million-dollar heartburn” and said he wished the board’s decision did not have to boil down to money.
The town has filed for incorporation in Rock County Court. The city of Beloit’s letter asks that the court postpone action on the petition pending mediation.
The city requests that the town respond within a week of Jan. 23.