190305_INCORP_G1

TOWN OF BELOIT

The Beloit Town Board voted Monday to keep open the option to resubmit an incorporation petition with the state.

In January, Rock County Judge Barbara McCrory gave the town until March 15 to notify the court if it planned to file a new petition after the state denied the town’s first bid to incorporate into a village in December.

Board members voted unanimously Monday night to let McCrory know the town intends to file a new petition. Town officials maintained they could ultimately decide not to refile, depending on how discussions about a new application shake out.

The state’s Incorp-oration Review Board ruled the town’s initial proposal did not meet four of the six statutory requirements for incorporation. The review board is allowing the town to resubmit a petition, and the $25,000 application fee will be waived if the town files by the end of the year.

Interim Town Administrator Gene Wright said Monday the town will go back to the drawing board and and see if it can flesh out a new petition that meets all the statutory requirements. The town board will create two committees made up of board members and residents to discuss an updated petition.

“The bones of the petition are there,” Wright said of reworking the incorporation petition. “We don’t have to start over. We just have to go back and clean up and revamp.”

Before the regular board meeting Monday, officials hosted an incorporation workshop, where Wright detailed possible changes to a new bid.

Among the changes discussed were:

  • A smaller village.

The town could shrink the size of the proposed village compared to its size in the previous proposal. The new west-side boundary would be at Duggan Road; the town previously suggested incorporating everything east of County D/Afton Road.

Wright said the new proposed boundaries could change further.

  • Being more realistic about future development.

Frank McKearn, the town’s engineer, said the town’s original application was too optimistic about future development.

  • Propose that the remaining town of Beloit share assets with the new village.

Wright suggested that sharing assets with the remnant town could mean the town would own portions of the new village’s buildings.

Wright said the town’s debt services, which were problematic for the state review board, will be less of an issue in an updated petition. The town was up to 74 percent of its debt service limit when it filed last year.

The town is refinancing some of that debt, so it will be up to 54 percent of its debt service limit in a new bid, Finance Director Sara Regenauer said.

McKearn said the town could decide to scrap a new petition if the town board determines the new application wouldn’t meet statutory requirements.

Resident Dave Sterna, who has long been involved in incorporation discussions, spoke during the workshop’s public comment portion and asked if board members are seeking to incorporate to protect the town’s boundaries or secure money from a new Alliant Energy power plant. Sterna would have been living in the remnant town of Beloit had the incorporation petition been approved.

An Alliant Energy plant already exists in the town, but the utility is building a new one. The town receives about $1 million a year from the plant, and Rock County receives about $1.7 million.

If the town were to incorporate, the new village would receive about $2.9 million a year once the new plant is completed, and the county would receive $1.9 million.

“In your minds, what’s more important: Is it the borders or is it the money?” Sterna asked. “It would be interesting to know.”

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