Mayor Soglin's Blog

Building the Property Tax Base Matters

September 28, 2011 5:01 PM

A few days ago the Wisconsin State Journal ran an editorial commending Epic Systems Corporation as it convened its annual users' group meeting. The glowing account of this prized company was right on target except for one significant statement:

Some in Madison still lament that Madison lost Epic to Verona years ago. But that's an outdated view. As long as Epic stays and expands anywhere in our region, we all should be happy.

After all, the real competition for the jobs of the future isn't between one local community and its neighbors. Increasingly, the entire Capital Region is competing against other regions around the world.

Wrong. Very wrong. The failure of the city of Madison to respond a decade ago when Epic was looking for a site for its new campus was a costly mistake that reverberates today and will have adverse consequences to the city and the region for years to come.

Most distressing is that the Wisconsin State Journal thinking reflects centuries old planning, land use, transportation, and taxation views that were repudiated long ago as modern creative thinkers, system thinkers, understood these horrid economic and environmental consequences:

•  While many of the young Epic workers prefer to live in the dynamic city of Madison, the move to Verona shifts a significant number out of the Madison Metropolitan School District, which desperately needs more children from middle and upper income households.

•  The Madison property tax base lost millions in revenues (over $3 million a year!). These are very efficient revenues since these types of office buildings are 'profit centers' having little demand for municipal services.

•  The transportation challenges with Epic located so far from the center of the existing public transit system is costly to commuters, to Epic and the entire community. Automobile demands are significant.

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