|By Dean Mosiman, The Wisconsin State
JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sept. 27, 2011--In a setback but far from a final blow, Madison's finance committee endorsed $3.3 million rather than a previously approved $16 million in city assistance for the $98 million Edgewater hotel project.
The decision, coming after public testimony but no debate among Board of Estimates members, sets up the true funding showdown when the full City Council makes final decisions on the capital budget in November.
Already, at least 10 of 20 council members have expressed support for $16 million, the amount the developer, the Hammes Co., says it needs to do the project.
In early September, Mayor Paul Soglin proposed $3.3 million in tax incremental financing (TIF) for the Edgewater as part of his proposed $196.6 million capital budget for 2012.
Soglin's proposal, which he says is based on city policy, is far less than the $16 million in TIF approved by the council last year. The $16 million, however, must be reapproved if Hammes does not begin the redevelopment this year. The project is stalled over a legal challenge from Mansion Hill neighborhood residents.
On Monday, advocates for the $16 million said the project will deliver jobs, property tax revenues, public access to Lake Mendota and prove the city keeps its word. Opponents said the investment isn't worth it and that it's important for the city to follow its TIF policies.
Hammes contends the project is ready to go and needs the full $16 million.
The board refused two budget amendments to restore TIF funding cut by Soglin. It voted 4-2 to defeat a proposed amendment to restore the full $16 million and 5-1 to nix a proposal to deliver $8 million.
In total, the board considered 13 proposed amendments to Soglin's capital budget.
The board refused a proposal to cut more than $2 million for construction of the stalled Biolink Center, part of the BioAg Gateway industrial park on the Southeast Side. If the Biolink project loses city funding, it will likely die.
But the board added $1 million to bury overhead utilities on Williamson Street and agreed to redistribute funding for Downtown streets and add $100,000 for a Capitol Loop project that began this summer.
The council will consider the capital budget during the week of Nov. 14.
(c)2011 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)
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