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Kenosha Dumps Foxconn Discussions

Updated at 2p; 

If officials in Racine County have any qualms over hosting Foxconn, they're not showing it in the wake of Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian's decision to pull the city out of the running because the deal--in his opinion--would be too risky for property taxpayers. 

"Our responsibility is to protect the city and make sure that whatever deal we cut works for the city as well as the developer," said Antaramian in an exclusive WGTD News interview Tuesday morning. 

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave's office issued a statement a few hours later that struck a much different tone. ""We remain hopeful that Foxconn will choose to call Racine County home," it read. "We may have a chance to transform our region, creating tens of thousands of new jobs for Racine County, and we are hard at work to capitalize on that chance in a well thought-out, careful, and conservative way that makes Racine County highly desirable, while maintaining our commitment to the taxpayers of our great County," the statement continued.

Antaramian said he wishes the best for Mt. Pleasant. "I don't want anyone to think that this is one of those things where we have sour grapes," he said. "We are very supportive of Mt. Pleasant getting the project because we will benefit in the long term." 

City officials crunched the numbers as dictateted by the $3 billion Foxconn incentives bill that's moving through the legislature, according to Antaramian, and determined that a strong possibility existed that city property taxpayers could wind up subsidizing the project by having to pay for such things are additional police officers and firefighters. The impact on Kenosha Water Utility customers was also a concern, he said. Foxconn--in manufacturing LCD's--would reportedly use 8 million gallons of water a day.  

Would not the same factors that make Antaramian nervous be present in Mt. Pleasant? Not necessarily, said Antaramian, who believes the incentives bill was crafted more to the liking of the Racine County village. 

The Republican-controlled legislature has so far ignored Antaramian's concern that provisions in the incentive bill could damage a recently crafted annexation agreement between the city, Somers and Paris. 

While some adjustments relating to tax incremental financing districts were made to Kenosha's liking, a laundry list of other issues--many of them technical and not show-stoppers--were ignored, according to Antaramian, who declined to speculate on why. "We asked numerous times for help and we were ignored in the process," Antaramian said.

The city's decision to bow out of Foxconn discussions was laid out in a letter sent to Gov. Walker and released to the media. "Based upon the current status of the legislative bill which addresses the Project, the City of Kenosha regrets that we will not be able to support this development in our community," Antaramian writes.

A bill that would give Foxconn nearly $3 billion in various breaks in exchange of building a huge manufacturing complex has been approved by both the Assembly and the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee and awaits action in the Senate.

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