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Water War Dispute Threatens Microsoft and Other Mt. Pleasant Projects

June 6, 2024 7:15p; Updated 6-7 8:45a with reference to binding arbitration; Updated 11:10 with meeting notice

(WGTD)---A dispute between the City of Racine and the Village of Mt. Pleasant over water is threatening the Microsoft development. The city supplies water and sewer to the village. 

It says the details of an amendment on water and sewer service that enabled Foxconn to move forward needs to be renegotiated because Microsoft’s potential for job creation is far less than what Foxconn promised. Microsoft is in the process of building a data center on land originally earmarked for Foxconn.

The city also suggests that a Foxconn-inspired state incentives package that gave Mt. Pleasant and its businesses millions of dollars in tax and regulatory breaks puts the city at a disadvantage in attracting businesses and industries.

In a silent protest, the city has been dragging its feet on approving water and sewer connections for Microsoft and other proposed developments in the village.

That led to an exchange of letters between Racine Mayor Cory Mason and Village President Dave DeGroot, who made a rare appearance during the public comments portion of Tuesday night’s Racine City Council meeting. "It's our first salvo in terms of filing a complaint with the Public Service Commission," he said. He termed what the city wanted to discuss as "junk" unrelated to water.  

On Thursday, the city shot back, invoking a provision of its original utilities agreement with Mt. Pleasant that puts in motion a path that could lead to mediation and eventual binding arbitration.

The two sides are required to hold an initial meeting to discuss matters within the next couple of weeks.

Meeting in a closed session, the Mt. Pleasant Village Board on Monday night is expected to discuss its options. 

In a statement, the city said Microsoft’s arrival is exciting for the region, but that the job creation potential has changed dramatically, as has the agreement's "cost-benefit balance." It says the contract needs to be updated.