181214_BELOIT

TOWN OF BELOIT

Members of the state Incorporation Review Board on Thursday dismissed the town of Beloit’s petition to incorporate into the village of Riverside.

However, the board left the door open for the town to submit a new petition with “less territory.”

As it explains in its draft executive summary, the review board determined that the town did not meet four of the six statutory standards to incorporate into a village.

Board members had signaled Dec. 13 that they would dismiss the town’s petition, but they deliberated on whether they would dismiss it altogether or with recommendations for a new boundary.

In its final determination, published at 3 p.m. Thursday, the board wrote that the town’s petition is dismissed but with “a recommendation that a new petition be submitted to include less territory as specified in the Board’s findings and determination.”

That likely means the town should include less of its west side if it decides to submit a revised proposal. Town officials had pitched incorporating everything east of Afton Road, but the state argued that boundary does not create a municipality that is homogeneous or compact, which violates one of the six incorporation standards.

The town has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Town officials could be not reached for comment Thursday.

Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther praised the state’s decision Thursday, but she said ongoing negotiations between the city and town will depend on whether the town pursues a revised petition.

“It’s consistent with where we thought the findings would be,” Luther said. “We didn’t believe their application met the statutory criteria, and apparently the state agreed.”

The Rock County Board and city of Beloit strongly opposed the town’s bid to incorporate. Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said Thursday that the county does not have “any negative relationship” with the town and will continue to maintain a professional rapport.

“This is a professional disagreement about what is best,” he said. “The town staff and board and county staff and board have made decisions based on what they think is best.”

A focal point throughout the process has been Alliant Energy’s new power plant, which is currently under construction in the town.

If the incorporation petition had been approved, the new village of Riverside would have received two-thirds of Alliant Energy’s tax revenue. The county would have received one-third. Now, those revenues will be swapped, meaning the county will receive about $2.9 million annually, and the town will receive about $1.9 million.

The county currently receives about $1.7 million annually from an existing Alliant Energy plant, and the town receives about $1 million. The county would have seen a nearly $123,000 bump in revenue if the incorporation petition had been approved, but the county has maintained that it is better suited for the revenue spike than the new village.

Smith said it’s unclear how the new revenue will be used. He said the funds will start flowing in a year after the plant is completed in 2020.

“With the levy limits being what they are … any additional revenue is always helpful,” Smith said. “It’s pretty clear to us that we have some high-priority needs.”

According to the review board’s decision, the town’s petition fell short because:

  • The level of municipal services that would be provided by the proposed village to portions of its west side are not known.
  • Incorporation would have negative effects on the town’s remnant west side.
  • The area proposed for incorporation is not sufficiently compact or homogeneous.
  • The proposed village would include too much vacant, rural land with only modest population growth expected.

The town’s petition fee will be waved if it resubmits a revised petition within a year.

The state’s decision now will be forwarded to Rock County Court.

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