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State Budget Helps New Village Burdened With Paper Mill Debt

Village Of Maine Gets Millions As It Absorbs Dying Village Of Brokaw

Glen Moberg/WPR

A new central Wisconsin village is getting some help as it acquires millions of dollars of debt from a dying paper mill town.

The Village of Maine is in the process of absorbing Brokaw, which became insolvent when Wausau Paper closed its mill there in 2012, causing 450 people to lose their jobs.

Maine residents voted to incorporate into a village in December 2015.

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A measure inserted into the recently approved state budget gives the community and the neighboring Town of Texas just under $3 million spread out over five years.

Maine Village President Betty Hoenisch said the money would take the burden off her taxpayers.

“I am just elated,” Hoenisch said. “This is just an awesome feeling to know that the Village of Maine and the Town of Texas taxpayers will not be buried in a debt that we did not create.”

State Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R- Stettin, and Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, added the measure to the budget.

Petrowski, in a news release, said the funding “is not a bailout for the Village of Brokaw,” which “will cease to exist.”

“This motion is a way to offset the financial impact to the taxpayers in Maine and Texas who had no more part in creating the problem than citizens in any other part of the state, but who will otherwise be saddled with the debt,” Petrowski said in the release.

Hoenisch said the money will help the village address infrastructure problems, including drilling new wells to supply water to Brokaw.

“We are looking forward to really doing some great things here on the northern end of Marathon County. This is truly a cooperative effort to turn something around and make it a positive,” Hoenisch said.

The new village also has to contend with a lawsuit filed by the city of Wausau over its boundary agreement with Texas and Brokaw. The agreement stops Wausau from annexing territory to its north.

Petrowski, in the news release, said he hoped the communities would “try to work together for the benefit of the entire region.”

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