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City Of Kenosha Says It’s Out Of Foxconn Hunt

Kenosha's Absence Leaves Racine County As Likeliest Spot For Plant

If officials in Racine County have any qualms over hosting Foxconn, they’re not showing it in the wake of Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian’s decision to pull the city out of the running because the deal, in his opinion, would be too risky for property taxpayers.

Antaramian wrote to Gov. Scott Walker on Monday that the legislative bill being considered for Foxconn doesn’t do enough to address state laws, making it difficult for the city to support the project.

The mayor cited restrictions involving tax increment districts, the state’s levy limits law and more.

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“Our responsibility is to protect the city and make sure that whatever deal we cut works for the city as well as the developer,” Antaramian said Tuesday morning.

Kenosha’s absence would leave Racine County as the likeliest spot for a display assembly plant expected to employ thousands. Legislators are voting this week on a nearly $3 billion incentives package for Foxconn.

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave’s office issued a statement later Tuesday that struck a much different tone than that of Antaramian’s.

“We remain hopeful that Foxconn will choose to call Racine County home,” it read. “We may have a chance to transform our region, creating tens of thousands of new jobs for Racine County, and we are hard at work to capitalize on that chance in a well thought out, careful, and conservative way that makes Racine County highly desirable, while maintaining our commitment to the taxpayers of our great county.”

Antaramian said he wishes the best for Mount Pleasant in Racine County.

“I don’t want anyone to think that this is one of those things where we have sour grapes,” he said. “We are very supportive of Mount Pleasant getting the project because we will benefit in the long term.”

No site for Foxconn has officially been announced.

City of Kenosha officials crunched the numbers in the $3 billion Foxconn incentives bill that is moving through the Legislature and determined that a strong possibility existed that city property taxpayers could wind up subsidizing the project by having to pay for such things as additional police officers and firefighters, said Antaramian. The impact on Kenosha Water Utility customers was also a concern, he said. In manufacturing LCDs, Foxconn would reportedly use 8 million gallons of water a day.

But wouldn’t the same factors that make Antaramian nervous make officials in Mount Pleasant and Racine County nervous? Not necessarily, said Antaramian, who believes the incentives bill was crafted more to the liking of Racine County.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has so far ignored Antaramian’s concern that provisions in the bill could damage a recently crafted annexation agreement between the City of Kenosha, Somers village and the Town of Paris — both in Kenosha County.

While some adjustments relating to tax incremental financing districts were made to Kenosha’s liking, a laundry list of other issues were ignored, said Antaramian, who declined to speculate on why.

The bill has been approved by the Assembly and the Joint Finance Committee, and is being voted on Tuesday in the Senate. If approved by the Senate, the bill will move back to the Assembly. If changes are agreed on, the bill heads to Walker for his signature.

Editor’s Note: This story was last updated at 3:56 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.

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