School, Park Districts Say No to York Street TIF

But other votes in favor of the TIF move the project along.

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 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.

Forward Motion

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.

Blight Sight

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 and 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.

Darlene Heslop July 04, 2012 at 05:06 AM
hi dan and mark..., you are 2 very smart guys and i wonder how come our elected officials can't "do the math" when you can...and so can i...you do not put more money into something in order to come out a loser...but here in elmhurst, in order to keep the developers happy with $$$, and contributing $$$ to the dicianni war chest, we are about to create a tif district that will end up costing tax payers a considerable sum of money...as they will now be paying higher taxes to the park district and the schools. i don't blame the park board nor the school board...i think they are doing they best they can under the circumstances, and i feel bad that they are being put in such a position.
Mark D July 04, 2012 at 05:56 AM
I need to review the report and map. Something is justified, but it has to be relevant and avoid the risks faced by Elmhurst and others in a down economy. My main point is that it seems a bit difficult to accept the idea that the JRB was neither in a position to act on an informed basis nor willing to meet again to become informed. It's almost as if there is this urgency now when none seemed to exist before when the taxpayers and voters could understand what is going on. I have seen great TIFs before, but I worry that a recent one has not gone well and that this proposal is simply a rushed sign of extravagance from which the city may retreat. If the City were sincere, Morley should have run a different meeting and actually had some consideration for that second meeting of the JRB.
Darlene Heslop July 04, 2012 at 06:52 AM
i agree, mark..., it's not that i don't agree that tif districts can and are a useful tool for economic development, but a lot has to do with timing, as well as the potential for economic backlash to other taxing bodies. good observation regarding the meeting as well... .
Carol Kania Morency July 04, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Thanks for your questions, Dan. The problem in writing a TIF story is that it's hard to work in all the information you get. The $89 million would include expected contributions from both the city and private developers (and is an estimate at this point). Of course, each parcel or set of parcels to be redeveloped would have a different set of circumstances that would dictate what was spent to upgrade it. As for the final EAV after redevelopment occurs, consultants make their best educated guesses but in the end are trying to project what the economy might be like years down the road. And while 35 years might not seem old, in terms of city planning it's a long time. Requirements for building commercial and retail developments, including stormwater, parking, making deliveries, etc. have changed. Elmhurst is often competing against other towns that can offer developers essentially blank slates for building.
Darlene Heslop July 05, 2012 at 04:33 AM
mariano's has already made the commitment to come to elmhurst without any commitments from the city. it's the developer of the land that is looking for $$$. the city council never approved any kind of incentive package for mariano's to come here.


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