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Marathon County Towns Push To Allow Municipal Bankruptcy

Village Of Brokaw's Financial Woes Could Hurt Neighboring Towns, Officials Say

Brokaw paper mill
Paper mill in Wausau. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC-BY-ND)

Rural town officials in Marathon County have called for changes to state bankruptcy law as a solution for the financially troubled village of Brokaw. They said they don’t want to see the village annexed to the nearby city of Wausau.

Annexation is a possible solution for tiny Brokaw, which is more than $3 million in debt after the loss of its paper mill. But Tad Schult, chairman of the town of Maine, said one proposed annexation corridor would take away 31 percent of his tax base.

“People really don’t want to lose part of the town of Maine to the city of Wausau,” he said.

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Schult also doesn’t want the Brokaw to dissolve, which would saddle Maine and the nearby town of Texas with its debt. Instead, he said he wants state law changed so Brokaw can declare bankruptcy.

“The bankruptcy is really a win-win for everybody because we’re not fighting annexation,” said Schult. “They’re dealing with their debt which they should have dealt with a long time ago.”

Unlike neighboring Michigan, Wisconsin state law does not allow for municipal bankruptcy.