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Our View: City made the correct decision in NMC purchase

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opinion River Falls,Wisconsin 54022
Hudson Star Observer
Our View: City made the correct decision in NMC purchase
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Recognizing that there is a possible downside to any transaction, we think the city of Hudson made the correct decision in purchasing the Nuclear Management Co. property for $2.5 million - without any increase in taxes.


What could be the downside you ask? It removes a substantial tax-paying property from the local tax rolls. In some past years that amount was over $60,000, although that amount has dropped considerably in recent years as the building sat vacant.

But, when governments -- city, county, school district, state, etc. -- acquire property, there is always an immediate loss in tax revenue. The logic is that amenities like libraries will help attract new businesses and residents, eventually meeting or surpassing the lost tax revenue. Throw on top of that the potential savings of not building a new police station and library. If the city started from scratch by acquiring land and building new structures -- suddenly the deal looks even better.

For those who have been following the issue, the original cost of the building/property was in the neighborhood of $3.8 million. The city will purchase the site - less than a year later - for $2.5 million. The purchase also includes a smaller building on the corner of Second and Vine streets for $300,000. The actual price of the NMC Building is $2.2 million.

In 2008, the Hudson Area Library Foundation proposed moving the Hudson library to the former corporate headquarters building. That Foundation proposal, however, failed to receive the needed support from all four municipal partners of the library in a November 2008 referendum.

Mayor Dean Knudson resurrected the idea of the building being used for public purposes after a study by Frisbie Architects found the city's public safety departments - and the police department in particular - to be in need of additional space. The mayor proposed moving the police department and the library into the building - the library could lease space just as it does now.

The city council and Knudson deserve accolades for making this deal work - it would have been easy to walk away from it after the voters nixed the original plan in the spring of 2008. Ignoring the plan would have clearly cost the city more money in the big picture.

With the purchase, the library now has an opportunity to get into a better, more modern facility; and the city can resolve its own space issues by putting the police department in the new facility.

The plan calls for the city selling the Hudson Municipal Building at 911 Fourth St. That's good news for taxpayers. First, if the building is sold, it further reduces the cost of the NMC building; and second, it means the city does not take ownership of an additional structure. Selling the old building may involve some creative marketing, but eventually someone will find a use for it. The city paid $400,000 for the old building in 1993.

The plan is to trade up from an older, smaller building to a newer, larger building with no increase in taxes. We've asked before -- what could be better?