The Stoughton Common Council is looking for public input on whether to use taxpayer money to help fund a westside housing development.

A public hearing is set for the council’s Oct. 22 meeting on a $3 million tax-increment financing request from Forward Development Group to help build onsite infrastructure to support residential development within Kettle Park West phase 2.

The project looks to add 195 housing units to the area north and west of the commercial center at the intersection of Hwy. 138 and U.S. Hwy. 51., which some alders hope will help reverse the decline in Stoughton Area School District enrollment.

The meeting also includes a seminar on the complexities of TIF. It begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers on the second floor of the Public Safety Building, 321 S. Fourth St.

TIF is one of the few economic development tools available to cities in Wisconsin. It pools taxes on increased property value from all underlying trading districts and majors it available for municipalities to use for infrastructure or developer incentives.

It is by state law not allowed to be used for any development that would have occurred without its use. This provision, known as the “but for” test, is both speculative and subjective, but cities typically have financial advisers help them evaluate such proposals.

The council has tentative plans to decide on the TIF request at its Nov. 26 meeting but is looking to move the vote to another meeting because that coincides with Thanksgiving week and because city finance director Jamin Friedl will not be available, the council Mayor Tim Swadley said.

FDG formally requested the $3 million in TIF in July as a “pay-as-you-go” plan, minimizing the financial risk for the city. It had previously asked for $5.4 million in TIF assistance in 2016, but the city deemed the request to be too large.

To lower the TIF request, FDG eliminated apartments from its plans for Phase 2, which took up a “significant amount of space,” FDG representative Ron Henshue said at a Sept. 24 council meeting. The removal of multi-family units allowed for the addition of more single-family housing and also eased the demand for park space, he said.