I have been asked by many residents to explain what is going on with the Riverlife project especially as it pertains to Quantum Ventures and Jason Sharkey. During a January 9th City Council meeting we were asked to vote on allowing Frantz (Developer) to add Quantum Ventures as the investor arm of the project. At that time I felt there was little to no information on the Quantum Ventures company such as financial resources, previous successful projects, current projects etc. Mr. Mike Frantz spoke addressed the full Council and answered questions with what I thought was vague answers. The only description he could give of Mr. Sharkey was he had "deep pockets." I specifically asked Chris Schock Economic Development Manager for the City of Wausau if we (the city) had done our due diligence on this company. My main concern with all development projects where taxpayer money is used is safeguarding the taxpayer. I did not hear the answers I personally felt I needed to hear to feel comfortable in voting for this change to Quantum. Wausau's Finance Director stated we currently did not have the financial information to allow any disbursements to be paid, and this told me due diligence was not completed. Our economic development agreements are completed with benchmarks which need to be met by the developer before taxpayer money is to be used but there are other elements where taxpayers could be hurt if a development stops or slows down. I voted no to continue on with Quantum Ventures until I was convinced all due diligence was completed to my satisfaction.
If a development stops or a developer abandons a project due to any number of reasons including losing financial backing the taxpayers still have money which has been borrowed for use in the TID projects. The developments produce taxable tax base which is used to pay back the loans. If a development ceases we as a city need to find another developer to pick up the project and there is never a guarantee how long this will take. As many have seen the financial and legal problems which were identified by both the Denver Post and Wausau Pilot and Review of Mr. Sharkey created many questions of the financial stability of this company and thus the Riverlife project. I will always demand due diligence for every project taxpayer funds are used and will push for the increased vetting of all projects for both developers and financial backers alike. Mr. Sharkey has left Quantum Ventures and Mike Frantz is currently the owner of this company.
Mr. Frantz will report to council again March 27th and is to have all his finances in line for this entire project.