By Shereen Siewert | Wausau Pilot & Review

Voters in Rib Mountain will make a final decision next month on whether to incorporate into a village, which would allow the municipality greater flexibility.

Like cities, villages are incorporated, much like a business. They have additional powers and responsibilities to govern themselves and manage their own affairs, such as the ability to create Tax Incremental Financing, or TIF, districts.

Counties and towns belong to the state, and can only do what the state legislature authorizes. That’s one point the Rib Mountain town board took into consideration last year, when the idea was first discussed. Town Administrator Gaylene Rhoden, in a list of pros and cons distributed to board members in March 2021, noted that incorporating would also protect Rib Mountain from annexation and pave the way for long-term debt borrowing. As a village or city, debt terms can be extended to 20 years.

On Tuesday, town officials held a public meeting to explain the referendum and what a “yes” vote would mean for residents. Officials say taxes will not be impacted unless service levels change. Rib Mountain is unlikely to establish its own police department, for example.

The discussion on incorporation was borne out of the board’s strategic planning session in June 2020. Now, it’s up to voters to decide. The election is set for July 11.