WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Wisconsin EDC announced Monday it's reviving tax breaks for preservation projects
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced Monday it is reviving tax breaks for some historic preservation projects. W-E-D-C halted the tax breaks three weeks ago after the amount of tax credits handed out hit 35 million dollars. The figure was well above the initial estimated economic impact of four million dollars for the first year of the program. Critics of the move argued W-E-D-C should continue awarding the tax breaks though, because the projects they are encouraging have the potential to create hundreds or thousands of jobs. Several lawmakers and the governor supported putting a hold on the tax breaks, saying the state should proceed with caution. W-E-D-C Secretary and C-E-O Reed Hall says Monday’s decision will result in the agency awarding tax breaks to projects involving buildings that meet the standards of the State Historic Preservation Officer and the National Park Service of historic buildings. Hall says that process for Certified Historic Buildings “is very rigorous” and should result in the focus shifting to larger projects that have community and investor involvement behind them. The moratorium will remain in place for buildings that do not have a historic designation.
When responsibility for the return of unclaimed property was switched from the Wisconsin Treasurer’s Office to the Department of Revenue there were about 12-hundred requests waiting. Now, that number of claims is estimated to approach 73-hundred – six times as many. The backlog has built while the revenue department has worked on a new computer system to speed responses in the future. It’s estimated to be at its highest level since the 1990s. State residents make claims through the property program on money or assets left behind by themselves or relatives. Nearly 23-million dollars worth of cash and property has been returned in the last 12-months by the state Revenue Department.
Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and the state’s P-S-C Broadband state director announced the winners of the 2014 Broadband Expansion Grants at events in Rhinelander, Eau Claire and Platteville. The State of Wisconsin authorized 500-thouand dollars in grants to be distributed for this calendar year. "Broadband internet access is about way more than streaming movies and music. It allows local businesses to connect with colleagues and customers around the globe. It enables our students to explore the world with interactive information," according to Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch. "Broadband expands the economic and educational horizons of our citizens, and we're excited to see the impact of these grants for communities across Wisconsin."The recipients included: C-C-I Systems, Eau Claire County, Century Link, Central State Telephone Company, Choice Tel and the City of Eagle River, SonicNet and WIConnect Wireless. For more details go to: psc.wi.gov.
For the first time in 16 years, water levels on the Great Lakes are actually above average. There are said to be two major factors – a rainy spring and last winter’s ice cover which limited evaporation. Ninety-two-percent of the surface of the Great Lakes was covered by ice in March, the second-highest level in recorded history. Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron are all said to be about a foot higher than they were last July and all of the lakes are about average. Lake Michigan is at its highest level since the late 1990s and it is expected to increase by another inch by August.