Wausau Alderman Proposes Merger with Troubled Brokaw


A city of Wausau alderman is trying to build support for a merger of his community with the village of Brokaw.

Brokaw is in dire financial straits after the closure of its paper mill.

When the Wausau Paper Company closed the Brokaw mill last year, 400 people lost their jobs and the village lost its biggest taxpayer and utility customer. Now, its 250 people are saddled with $4.5 million of debt, and the highest property taxes and water rates in the region. Keene Winters is an alderman in the nearby city of Wausau.

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“They are twice Wausau’s tax rate, their water rate is a little more than three times Wausau’s, plus they have enough debt that bankruptcy is at least in the cards.”

But Winters also sees wasted opportunity in the infrastructure that helped build the paper mill.

“An I-39 interchange, a bridge over the Wisconsin River, a wastewater treatment facility, a water tower, a rail junction, sitting there waiting for development… but I don’t think it can be developed under the current financial conditions of the village.”

Keene Winters is proposing that the village of Brokaw merge with the much larger city of Wausau, which could help its residents with their debt, help them lower their taxes and water rates, and help them find a developer.

“This issue is probably on the order of building the mall in downtown Wausau. It will have far reaching consequences.”

But Winters admits there are challenges. Land would have to be annexed for a corridor between the two communities. And there is opposition from longtime Brokaw residents. Brokaw Village President Jeffrey Weisenberger told us, “The village has to approach Wausau. Wausau doesn’t approach the village.”