Why is the city of Beloit so concerned about the town of Beloit’s efforts to incorporate into a village? Incorporation is irreversible and would negatively affect the entire region. Under state statute, the adverse impact on the ability of Rock County to provide critical services must be considered.
The town’s primary interest continues to be capturing a financial windfall from Alliant Energy’s expansion. Currently, the town of Beloit and Rock County share utility aid revenue, with the county’s 161,000 residents receiving two-thirds of every dollar and the town’s 7,000 residents receiving one-third. If the town incorporates, the funding percentages will flip, with the tiny population of the proposed village receiving $1.1 million more than the other 154,000 county residents. Are those funds better used to benefit all of Rock County or just the proposed village? The Rock County Board agrees with the city; it voted unanimously to oppose the incorporation.
More than just the utility aid revenues would be adversely impacted. Town leadership has openly discussed the town’s financial hardships. What would happen if the town is unable to receive this additional revenue? Most governmental partnerships, shared services and formal collaborations arise because at least one party is financially unable to provide services on its own. This requires entities to work together, eliminating duplication of services, decreasing costs of service delivery and advancing regional economic development opportunities.
But, as evidenced by the town’s withdrawal from the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce and Greater Beloit Economic Development Council, the town apparently prefers to go it alone. The town’s approach prevents a better way of providing governmental services through regional cooperation. Such cooperation saves money. Consider the town’s recent efforts to build a “regional law enforcement training center” with a shooting range. Beloit and Janesville already share a shooting range, and another one in the region would waste taxpayer dollars. Yet the town has neglected to communicate with Beloit and Janesville, instead pushing ahead on its own.
The town may say incorporation is necessary to prevent future annexations into the city. In fact, only eight properties have been annexed into the city since 2000—all at the owners’ request because the city provides better services. The city does not—and cannot—annex property absent a request from a property owner. Moreover, instead of protecting town residents, incorporation would leave some facing an uncertain future. Not all current town residents are included in the proposed incorporation area. Those residents left behind in the “remnant town” would live in yet another fragmented government entity.
Instead of separatism and isolation, the city of Beloit is advocating for the most efficient approach to service delivery: regional cooperation. The city believes regional cooperation and increased adoption of shared services will benefit the entire region. That is why we are pursuing mediation to reopen talks about increased cooperation and potential efficiencies. Instead of two or three communities paying for separate services, we can work together to realize cost savings while providing higher levels of service to residents in the city and the town.
Our goal is, and always has been, to facilitate strong regional cooperation that will positively benefit all residents and businesses in the greater Beloit area.