Madison (WQOW) - A Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling Wednesday means cities like Eau Claire can continue to use tax-increment financing for projects like the Confluence Center.
An Eau Claire group called "Citizens With Facts" filed a lawsuit claiming Eau Claire misused the T.I.F. districts, in effect giving the developers cash used to demolish historic buildings on South Barstow. That would be illegal.
However, Wednesday the state's highest court disagreed, saying there was no evidence the money was used for demolition. They said the Eau Claire City Council action was within the law.
Two justices - Rebecca Bradley and Daniel Kelley, wrote a dissenting opinion.
Had this case gone the other way, it might have stopped cities across the state from using tax-increment financing to encourage private developments in this way.
Attorney Rick Esenberg, who represented the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) said, "We are disappointed by the decision of the court. It is our view that TIF abuse is a problem in the State of Wisconsin that invites local governments to provide favorable tax treatment for private developments." He went on to say Wednesday's decision "does not ensure than municipalities will scrupulously adhere to the limits placed on TIF districts by the legislature." Esenberg promised to continue monitoring use of TIFs and will challenge those that violate the law.
Voters With Facts issued a press release saying they, too, are disappointed in the decision. They quoted an unnamed "spokesperson" who said the group will "look forward to our day in court on our claim that the districts are illegal."