LA CROSSE, Wis. - It's been a plan long in the works, and after more than a year of negotiations, the city of La Crosse and town of Shelby now have a preliminary boundary agreement in place.
For many years, the city and the town have disagreed over issues such as like annexation and new development. The two municipalities have been having discussions since 2014 to resolve those issues and create a lasting plan for the future.
After many meetings, they now have an agreement draft, and want the public's input before they seal the deal.
"It's a long time coming," Timothy Candahl, town of Shelby chairman, said. He said his town and the city of La Crosse have been at odds for decades over boundaries, which has stalled new development.
"We want to be able to collaborate and not go to attorneys and take everything to court over annexation and new developments," Candahl said.
"Many times, when there's an annexation proposed, it ends up being a conflict between the town and city," La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.
Though they're two separate municipalities, the city and town are closely intertwined.
"The toughest obstacle we have is defining the line in the sand," Candahl said.
That's why Candahl and Kabat said the proposed boundary agreement will help both sides.
"Once it's drawn we'll know where we'll go and where the city will go," Candahl said.
Although there are still decisions to be made, Kabat said they have agreed on same main points. Though they haven't reached an exact agreement, one likelihood is a revenue-sharing agreement where the town would pay for use of city infrastructure, and town residents could use city services at "resident" rates.
"The town is recognizing they have residents that use city services and aren't contributing to their costs, so they're offering some revenue sharing based on their town residents use of city services," Kabat said.
And the two leaders say having a plan in place for the future will bring new opportunity for growth in both municipalities.
"It's going to hopefully get us together with our neighbor, allow for better planned growth," Kabat said. "It'll increase tax-based population, and I think it's going to identify good opportunities where we can work together."
"Now we know where the line is and we can move forward and help each other," Candahl said.
There will be a public meeting to offer input on the working draft of the boundary agreement at 6 p.m. Monday at All Star Lanes on Mormon Coulee Lane in La Crosse. Municipality leaders will take residents' opinions back to the drawing board, and plan to have a final agreement set in place in 2017.
If the agreement is approved by both the city and the town, it would last for the next 25 years.
You can view the preliminary agreement here.
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