Park and school representatives let it be known that they believe it is not in their best interest at this time to vote in favor of a new tax increment financing district.
At the TIF Joint Review Board meeting Monday, Elmhurst Unit District 205 School Board President Jim Collins and Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers voted against moving forward with the new TIF district on North York Street.
Collins told the JRB he was “not authorized to vote yes” to accept the city's findings on the need for a redevelopment plan for the area, which stretches along York Road from just south of North Avenue to Grand Avenue. School officials worry the schools will lose potential property tax revenue once the TIF is created.
They asked the city's finance team and Mayor Pete DiCianni last week if Monday's Joint Review Board meeting could be postponed so they could have more time to analyze the TIF, but representatives from the city are eager to move forward.
Collins ultimately voted “present” at Monday's JRB meeting.
The Park Board also met last month to discuss its position on the TIF, park Commissioner Carolyn Ubriaco told Elmhurst Patch. Several concerns were raised at that meeting. She said the proposed TIF makes some provisions for the Elmhurst Public Library and District 205, but none for the Park District. Also, the Park District no longer has a "land in lieu of cash" agreement for large developments, Ubriaco said.
Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers also ended up voting against pursuing the TIF at the JRB meeting Monday.
TIF districts freeze assessed property values for local taxing bodies for up to 23 years to encourage redevelopment in areas considered blighted. TIFs generate new revenue through new construction in the TIF district, or if the township assessor increases the assessed value of the properties in the TIF district. The difference between the frozen property value and any new assessment or growth goes into a TIF fund. The city then uses this money to pay for any public improvements or to help finance redevelopment projects in the district.
Collins told the board he represents 16,000 current and future students, and District 205 receives 70 percent of the tax revenue generated in the affected area. He said the School Board needs more time to study the TIF proposal.
“Things are moving a little fast for us,” he said.
The School Board asked city representatives last week to discuss how the TIF could be structured to benefit the School District through some sort of tax sharing program. There is precedent for this—the city paid the School District out of funds generated in TIF 1, which helped spur redevelopment in the City Centre area.
But school officials said last week that they were not happy with that agreement and wanted clearer language on any new plans.
On Monday, Collins proposed continuing the JRB meeting to July 19. Representatives from DuPage County, and Addison and York townships, however, said they were ready to vote that night.
City attorney Brian Baugh confirmed that the review board's purpose was merely to certify the city's findings about the TIF, and that discussions about revenue sharing between affected taxing bodies were outside its purview.
County and township representatives were joined by JRB Chairman and 6th Ward Alderman Steve Morley, and public representative Kurt Warnke, in approving the city's initial findings on the TIF.
No one at the meeting disputed the city's claims that the taxable parcels in the proposed area are blighted. Of the 117 buildings, 68 percent are more than 35 years old, which meets one of the main criteria for declaring a redevelopment zone, according to Robert Rychlicki with Kane McKenna, the city's consultant.
Many of the buildings have broken windows or are sitting on cracked, weed-choked pavement. Because the area was developed haphazardly, single-family homes sit next to fast-food places and industrial buildings. Twenty-four percent of the commercial and industrial property in the proposed TIF district is vacant, Rychlicki said.
Another criteria for declaring TIF zones involves falling or stagnant equalized assessed valuations in comparison to the rest of the city. For four of the last five years, the EAV in the area has dropped; it lags more than 5 percent behind the rest of the city's valuation.
Rychlicki said the EAV of the proposed TIF is at $32 million. The consultants estimate a budget of $89 million to redevelop York Street to its full potential, including costs to buy land, place or replace utilities, and administrative fees. After the 23-year life of the TIF, the York Street parcels are expected to be worth $105 to $150 million.
About $2 million is budgeted to pay the School District back directly for the cost of educating students who come into the district because of TIF-related development. The city has also drawn both Churchville Middle School and Conrad Fischer Elementary School into the boundaries of the district to allow the schools to receive TIF funds for capital projects.
Morley also promised that the city will continue to meet with the School District to pursue an “aggressive” revenue sharing program.
A public hearing on the North York TIF district will be held at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6.