Incorporation is about independence

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Greenlee

After decades of discussion, the Town of Beloit has filed a petition to incorporate, and ultimately become a village.

For 175 years, the Town of Beloit has been an independent governing body, and we intend to remain that way - independent.

Throughout its history the Town has evolved into an autonomous, robust, full service community, with its own Police, Fire/EMT, Administrative, Community Development, Sewer and Public Works services. These Town services, and the genuine economic strength of our unincorporated Town has made us a target for annexation by the City of Beloit. This process is essentially calling a fact something which already exists.

Incorporation assures that the newly formed village cannot be further annexed by the City of Beloit, nor any other municipality. Incorporation is the only way for our community to remain independent.

BY STATE statute, only the more populated and developed area east of Afton Road meets the statutory requirements for incorporation. The more rural area west of Afton Road would remain the Town of Beloit after the village is formed.

If not for state statute, we would be proposing the entire Town incorporate at once. Unfortunately, this is not immediately possible due to Wisconsin law. It has always been the Town Board's position and intention to include the entire Town in the incorporated village as soon as possible. Every effort is being made to accommodate and include west side residents into the new village.

A citizens advisory committee tasked with developing an intergovernmental agreement for services between the village and Town has made substantial progress, and should have a comprehensive agreement finalized soon. This agreement would ensure the provision and sharing of services for a term of 99 years, thus assuring west side residents that claims of "an uncertain future" are unfounded. Unlike past agreements with other incorporations in the state, the Town is requesting that the court make our incorporation conditional upon the ratification of this agreement by the new Village. The Town Board and administration continue to work diligently to ensure a complete and seamless transition for all residents into the new village.

PROTECTING our boundaries is the primary driving force behind the incorporation effort. Town officials have initiated talks with the City over the past 18 months in an effort to come to an acceptable boundary agreement. Ultimately, the Town presented the City with an offer that we consider extremely generous and in the best interests of residents of both the City and the Town. After closing down negotiations, the City has now requested entering into mediation.

Much has been made of the revenue sharing from the Alliant Energy plant expansion. Yes, the increased revenues to the Town/new village would be more than welcome. It would be irresponsible and a dereliction if the Board did not move to protect the revenues proscribed by the state. City and County officials who accuse the Town of being "only in it for the money" should take a good hard look at their own motives.

Any claims that budget cuts and/or services reductions as a result of our incorporation have absolutely no basis in fact. The Town Board has offered to delay the 1/3-2/3 revenue shift until after the 2nd plant is operational, thereby insuring that the county will receive no less (in fact an increase) than the same tax revenue they receive today.

THE TOWN of Beloit has long been a leader in regional cooperation, sharing services and resources with our neighboring communities on countless occasions and on a regular basis. Incorporation will strengthen the Town's ability to continue to provide the high level of services to our residents and our neighbors.

Incorporation will allow the new village/Town to continue to grow with our neighbors as partners, on equal footing and with the same advantages which would strengthen the entire region. We are not going anywhere. We will continue to pursue growth opportunities. Stronger partners, working together, can only benefit not just the Town/village, but the entire region.

This is not isolationism in the least, we are not going anywhere and intend to be good neighbors as we have been to date. We will continue to share services with other communities and agencies where and when it makes sense for our community to do so. We firmly believe that having the 27 square miles of the Town enjoy the same statutory allowances of a Village or City will only strengthen the region as a whole.

Diane Greenlee is Chair of the Town of Beloit Board of Supervisors.

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