The town of Beloit is located just over the state line, about 20 miles north of Rockford. Town administrator Ian Haas says he’s seen several development projects roll out in just the past year.
“In the past 12 months, we’ve seen a boon in all sectors,” Haas said. “In residential, we’ve seen the signing of three different development agreements that insure a little less than 400 housing units in the next 10 years. We’re looking at an increase of just over 20 percent of our population.”
Hass says many of those new residents will be making the short move from Illinois into Wisconsin.
“There’s an awful lot of people I’m talking to who are moving into these new residences or taking part in these commercial developments that are coming from Illinois,” Haas said. “[They] are cutting ties and moving themselves and their family or moving their business. I know there’s a lot of people who are worried, especially when it comes to the financials for the state of Illinois.”
Haas says he’s heard from people concerned about the possibility of taxes continuing to rise in Illinois. Last summer, Illinois lawmakers approved a $5 billion tax increase over the veto of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The Town of Beloit has seen an uptick in moves from the Illinois towns of Roscoe and Rockton.
“Those are very nice municipalities,” Haas said. “I think it has less to do with what’s going on at the local government level and more with what’s going on at the state or county level.”
One major difference between the two states can be found in property taxes. A recent study by CoreLogic found Illinois has the highest median property tax rate in the nation, at a combined 2.67 percent. Wisconsin had median property taxes of 1.95 percent.
“One of the things I was absolutely floored by were the property taxes for the average property owner in the city of Rockford,” Haas said. “When we were running our comparables, we found it was above and beyond anything we see in Wisconsin.”
The Town of Beloit also is seeing more activity on the business side of things. An undisclosed company is in talks about building a $50 million agriculture facility in the area. And Haas says he’s taken a handful of calls recently from Illinois businesses looking to relocate.
“Being in a rough spot is not easy, and I’m not trying to attack the state,’ Haas said. “But there are definite issues that need to be resolved, and until they are I think people will continue to look in Wisconsin and Indiana for options.”