June 3, 2020
To: TID List, Municipal Clerks and Treasurers
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) is sharing the following information in response to common questions on virtual meetings for Tax Incremental Districts (TIDs). The information is from current state law, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, DOR's Tax Incremental Finance Manual and DOR's Tax Incremental Finance Common Questions.
Can meetings for a TID be held virtually?
Due to the complexity of TID project plans, meeting in person is considered best practice. However, required municipal meetings can be held by telephone conference call or video conference call. The municipality must make accommodations for members of the public who cannot attend virtually and must include instructions on how to access the meeting in the published meeting notice. Review the Attorney General's open meeting advisory for more information or consult an attorney.
Can the municipality email correspondence to Joint Review Board (JRB) members?
Section 66.1105(4)(e), Wis. Stats., requires a copy of the public hearing notice for a TID creation or amendment be sent by first class mail to all JRB members. All other correspondence may be emailed.
Are the JRB members required to attend meetings in person?
Due to the complexity of TID project plans, meeting in person is considered best practice. However, JRB members may participate in meetings via telephone or video conference, if there is a physical meeting location where the public can attend and communication is two-way, so votes and comments can be heard by all attendees. JRB members may not vote by email. The municipality should consult its attorney to confirm JRB meetings and notices comply with open meetings law.
Does holding a virtual meeting change the meeting notice requirements?
No, the meeting notice publication requirements and timeframes are the same for a virtual meeting. The notice for a virtual meeting must also include instructions on how to access the meeting. For more information on notice requirements, review the TIF public notice web page.
Does the municipality need to document a virtual JRB meeting differently than a physical meeting?
No, the municipality must make a record of the motions and votes for both types of meetings. In a virtual meeting all verbal votes must be clearly heard by all attendees. Following a virtual meeting, the municipality may email the resolution to JRB members. The members can scan and email their signed copy to the municipality. DOR prefers the municipality provide copies of the signed JRB resolution.
Can the municipality notify landowners by email?
The law does not specify how to provide notification; however, mail is the usual method. Mailing the notification is considered a best practice because email addresses change frequently or may not be monitored regularly.
Can a municipality allow project costs that have already started and are intended to be included in a project plan amendment, but the approval process has been delayed due to the public health emergency declared for COVID-19?
State law only allows planning expenses before a project plan is approved. DOR does not review or approve expenses. It is the municipality's responsibility to determine if costs are eligible under state law.
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