Could Brokaw become part of Wausau? - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Could Brokaw become part of Wausau?

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

An effort to combine the Village of Brokaw with the city of Wausau is ramping up.

The Brokaw Village president tells Newsline 9 he's open to it.

This idea has floated around for some time. But we're now getting a better idea of what it would take to accomplish that, and the amount of opposition it faces.

The Village of Brokaw is home to 251 people, according to the 2010 census. But there's a push to join those people to the 39,000 people living in Wausau.

"Working together, we can do more than we could on our own," said Wausau City Councilman Keene Winters, a big supporter of merging the two municipalities.

Adam Dykman, former Brokaw Village president, also supports it.

"It makes sense to have somebody that maybe have a little more buying power, if you will, to assist us with growing," said Dykman.

The big rationale for a merger, supporters say, is that Brokaw has been hit hard. Wausau Paper closed its mill there last year, cutting more than 400 jobs.

"Taxes are very high, they're more than two and a half times the rate in Wausau," added Winters.

Brokaw also has a lot of debt considering its small population—about $4.6 million as of the end of 2011, according to village documents.

"We don't have the resources to be able to develop it, and Wausau does, so I think that's how we win together," said Dykman.

But what do current Brokaw leaders think? Village President Jeffrey Weisenberger spoke to Newsline 9 by phone.

"Would it be fair to say that you are open to that idea of consolidation?" asked Newsline 9's Daniel Woodruff.

"Yes, yes," said Weisenberger. "Anything is possible."

Weisenberger says he speaks regularly with Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple about the idea, but nothing is set in stone.

"The village is in a little bit of difficulty, and we do have to look at all the options," said Weisenberger.

But there's a big wrinkle in this idea. Wausau and Brokaw don't even border each other. That means the Towns of Maine and Texas will play a big role in whatever happens.

Maine Town Chair Tad Schult doesn't support a merger.

"That puts a line and a border in there where there could be a lot of annexation done which would take a lot of property away from the Town of Maine," he said, adding such a move "would be very detrimental to our tax base."

Newsline 9 also talked with the chair of the Town of Texas, Matthew Bootz. He said he's open to discussing a merger, but he hasn't heard anything official yet and is in "waiting mode."

Supporters say they know their proposal faces an uphill battle, but they just want to get all the parties together and start a discussion.

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