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City Council Will Establish TIF 4 Next Week Without Revenue Sharing Agreement with District 205

School Board president says significant progress has been made; an agreement should be in place by the end of September.

When Elmhurst City Council meets on Tuesday, Sept. 4, to vote to establish a new tax increment financing district, , it will do so without an agreement in place to share TIF funds with District 205 schools.

Both bodies have been meeting for a couple of months to try to get something in writing that everyone can agree on, but they aren't there yet, School Board President Jim Collins said Tuesday.

"We're in substantial agreement with the majority of points with the city," he said. "We really hoped we could have an agreement in place by the time the city votes on Tuesday, but we won't. As I've said before, the devil is in the details."

TIF districts freeze assessed property values for local taxing bodies for up to 23 years to encourage development in areas considered blighted. TIFs generate revenue through new construction in the district. The difference between the frozen property value and any new growth goes into a fund to pay for public improvements or help finance projects in the TIF district as incentives to developers.

"We represent about 16,000 children that will receive their education in District 205 schools during the term that TIF 4 is in place," Collins said. "Eighty-four percent of District 205 revenues come from property taxes. That's why when TIFs are discussed, we spend a great deal of time talking about them."

What has been agreed upon is that the city will offer up to $6 million for capital improvements to and , which are both in the new North York TIF. It also is offering to release $1 million to the School District from TIF 2 (Lake Street). And the city has offered to share 10 percent of the tax increment generated by the new TIF after the first 10 years the TIF is in place.

In total, they city is offering the School District about $11 million, Collins said.

"$11 million, by any stretch, is far more than what the city projects District 205 would have gotten without the TIF," he said.

City projections show that without it, properties in TIF 4 would only generate about $950,000 for the district over the next 23 years.

If the new TIF exceeds expectations, however, there are as yet no provisions to potentially release funds earlier. That's just one of the details still being worked on, School Board member Chris Blum said.

"We fully understand that they need to fund the TIF with enough money that they can accomplish the goals of that TIF," he said. "If they exceed those projections, we're asking that we start to share maybe a bit earlier."

Other details need to be worked out so the agreement can stand the test of time, Collins said.

"What we're trying to achieve here is that 15 years from now, the new School Board and City Council can look at this document and not have an argument over it," Collins said. "That it would specifically spell out how much money is released, under what conditions and when, whether that's date certains, or formulas, so there is no question 15 to 20 years from now what the intent of our agreement was back in 2012."

Tuesday's meeting was sparsely attended. In addition to city aldermen Diane Gutenkauf and Scott Levin, only about five others were in the audience.

Resident Charles Mueller asked why there is such a rush to get the TIF approved.

"What's the hurry?" he asked. "Why can't the public take a look at what's being proposed? I'm the type of guy, I need to see it and run my own analysis."

Blum said the School District has no control over the timeframe for the TIF.

"The city has sole discretion and drives the calendar," he said. "We can't make the city do anything. At the (Joint Review Board), . Our preference was to have , but that's not our choice."

The School District has called several meetings to try to move toward an agreement as quickly as possible to meet the city's time frame, Collins said.

Jan Dorner, who is president of the League of Women Voters of Illinois but spoke as an Elmhurst citizen, wanted to know when all these meetings had taken place and, if they were held in closed session, under what stipulation of the Open Meetings Act.

School Board member John McDonough said there has been no violation of the Open Meetings Act.

"We have had substantial discussions with the administration in formats that follow the Open Meetings Act," he said, adding that many of the discussions have been held in public committee meetings that are poorly attended.

The School Board will continue to meet with the city to "work out the exact language and explore ways to reach a common understanding of the mechanisms in place to reflect our joint expectations," Collins said.

The board is "disappointed" an agreement won't be in place by next week.

"But we're very optimistic that we will reach an agreement during the month of September," he said.

Kevin Diamond March 11, 2013 at 09:34 PM
The teachers signed a contract that lengthened the school day and pegs raises to the CPI without a stike. The TIF agreement has been agreed to and will be signed soon getting 205 $1 million immediatley and early releases of cash down the road. Seems to me Jim Collins has done a fine job and deserves to be re-elected.
Shareabit March 11, 2013 at 09:45 PM
The insider deal Collins cut with the City led by DiCianni is rotten to the core. Kevin Diamond, you and Collins are tied to the hip with DiCianni. We in Elmhurst are tired of that approach. Let some sunshine into the process. Vote against the incumbents. Your tired approach - Kevin - is in need of replacing.
Live On Olive March 12, 2013 at 01:49 AM
The school board President Jim Collins is a big problem. The school board leadership has such a poor community reputation according to Harris Interactive Poll. In the past month I have checked into the polling process. All the key indicators target poor school board leadership as the main cause of the poor poll numbers. Other area public schools use this to great advantage to seek to constantly improve their schools. The Harris Interactive Poll does not lie. If you don't believe me, telephone the Superintendent at Hinsdale. I did. Also telephone the New Trier school leaders, I did. All of them believe in Harris Interactive. We should too. So, I believe the proper approach here is to get rid of the current school board leader and start fresh. That is what the objective data suggests. Let's be smart and follow that information. Let's get rid of Jim Collins as the Harris Interactive Poll suggests.
another Lincoln parent March 12, 2013 at 02:52 AM
mr diamond: let's agree to disagree, you also thought pete dicanni was the greatest thing since sliced bread. now he's the pariah of elmhurst. morley was looking over his shoulder all day saturday to make sure pete wasn't anywhere to be seen for a photo op. why do you think morleys new theme is'ethical leadership'. what does that mean? i'm not like pete i'm guessin; then two years ago, you backed rob robertson, another woefully unqualified candidate. why is it that k diamond inc is in the business of being a perpetual kingmaker. your endorsement of collins will hurt more than it helps. hopefully you'll have better luck with your new project, young miss basetdo.
D L March 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM
If you want more DiCianni then Collins is your guy. Back room deals, and poor ones at that. Diamond is an avid DiCianni supporter and likes things the DiCianni way. Same with Collins. Diamond's endorsement of Collins says it all. We are rid of DiCianni who is now the county's problem. Voters, get rid of Collins!

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