A residents speaks during a meeting with Tammy Baldwin in the village of Brokaw earlier this year. The new plan should bring some relief to Brokaw residents.
Representatives of Brokaw, Maine and Texas are celebrating state approval of their cooperative boundary plan, which will save Brokaw residents money and avert the village’s collapse.
Brokaw, with a population of only about 250, has been in a financial crisis ever since Wausau Paper closed its mill there in 2012. The company was by far the village’s largest taxpayer and water utility customer.
Brokaw eventually will become a part of the newly created village of Maine, with the town of Texas providing some land. Texas in turn will receive some village services, and Maine will help manage Brokaw’s debt.
The benefit to Brokaw taxpayers? They’ll pay a lot less in taxes. Brokaw residents currently pay around $45 per $1,000 in valuation, including state, federal and other taxes. That’s more than double that of Maine and Texas residents, who pay roughly $20 per $1,000. Under the plan, Brokaw taxes would be closer to that of Maine and Texas. The plan also addresses installing a new water system and focusing on economic development to spark some business growth in the tiny village along the Wisconsin River.
The village faced massive debt after the closure of the Wausau Paper Mill, causing the village to lose 34% of its tax base. That sent Maine and Texas scrambling to come up with a plan to avoid seeing Brokaw dissolve, which would have shifted that debt to surrounding townships. Brokaw will remain a village for some time, which will allow it to apply for grants to help ease debt obligations and convert its water system.