Federal recommendation could jeopardize Wausau’s Metropolitan status, funding

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) — The Wausau area could lose its metropolitan title and funding, following a recent recommendation from the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee to the Office of Management and Budget.

Basically, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is a city surrounded by communities that are socially and economically combined. Think of Wausau and surrounding towns/communities.

This new recommendation would change the qualification from a minimum of 50,000 residents to 100,000 residents. In this case, the Wausau area would not immediately qualify.

“That’s what is going to cause issues, depending on how it is implemented,” said UWSP Professor and Urban Planner Ismaila Odogba. He explained the MSA distinction is often used for funding purposes.

For example, Wausau received $631,717 from Community Development Block Grants because of its MSA status.

Right now, this is just a recommendation. If it becomes more than that, “we would continue lobbying the federal government,” said Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg. “I mean this is just the start of a conversation and I hope they are listening to us.”

She’s already written a letter to the Deputy Administrator of the Office of Management and Budget detailing the “detrimental” impact this change would have on Wausau and similar communities.