LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) - La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat has sent letters to every town, village and city in La Crosse County asking for funds to keep jobs in La Crosse.
La Crosse is giving a financial incentive to Trane Co. to keep jobs in the city. Because many of their employees live outside the city, the mayor is turning to local municipalities to help cover the cost of the incentive.
Kabat said keeping Trane in La Crosse helps more than just the city, it helps the whole region. So he's asking for help.
At the end of July Kabat sent a letter to Onalaska Mayor Joe Chilsen requesting $28,140 from the city of Onalaska.
"We've, at least through Trane, verified that the vast majority that work at Trane live outside of the city of La Crosse and it's just not fair that the city has to bare the brunt of the cost to keep all the jobs here," Kabat said.
When Chilsen received the letter, he was surprised by the request. He said it shouldn't come directly from Kabat, it should come through the La Crosse Area Planning Committee, which is compromised of all the mayors and presidents of the municipalities in La Crosse County.
"That's why LAPC was put together, is to be a planning commission for not only the city of La Crosse, but the county, the entire county and that's the proper conduit for that money to come from," Chilsen said.
Chilsen brought the request to the Onalaska City Council, which shot down the idea almost immediately because the request should come from the LAPC.
"We're not saying we don't support keeping Trane around, that's not what this is about, this is about taking funds or asking for funds in the proper conduit and LAPC is the proper conduit for that," Chilsen said.
Kabat says he feels that is a separate matter.
"There is not participation from all those other entities on the LAPC, so I thought, because of the specifics of this issue, I felt like it made more sense to reach out to them individually," Kabat said.
Both mayors agree Trane is an important resource to our area.
"If Trane isn't around it hurts everybody," Chilsen said.
"The city felt it was a high priority, it came at a high cost, but it was very important," Kabat said.
Kabat says when he sent out the letters he didn't expect to get a lot of support, but he stands by his position of sharing the weight.
"We do need the county, we do need Onalaska, and Shelby and all those other jurisdictions to help us with these projects because it should not just be the burden of the city tax payer. So I am going to continue to talk about that and raise the issue wherever, and whenever I can and we'll see what happens," Kabat said.
Kabat says he is requesting a different amount from all municipalities. He says he did some math and based the amount on the population of each municipality.
Kabat says he has only heard back from the city of Onalaska. The Town of Holland and the Town of Farmington are the only others Kabat has had contact with since sending out the letter. He says he will be discussing his request further with both.
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