Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Schools Fighting TIFs

I noticed a Chicago Tribune article on Monday by Susan Kuczka about more school districts fighting a Tax Increment Financing district.

Other school districts may have been ahead of Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 and High School District 155. If so, I wasn’t paying attention because my tax bill was not in jeopardy of being hiked by a mayor and city council whose fate I have no influence over.

If you are new to the subject of TIFs, it’s a method through which cities and villages can grab all increased tax revenue from property for 23 years (or even more, if they can get the General Assembly to pass an extension).

The taxes that school, park, junior college conservation and other tax districts, including county and township governments are frozen for that period of time.

All the extra revenue goes to city government to dispense pretty much as they wish within the TIF district. The city fathers and mothers talk about using it for “infrastructure,” but in Elgin developers have gotten massive direct subsidies to make their river front housing developments more profitable.

In any event, Monday’s Tribune headline read

Mall not worth tax loss, school officials say
That’s pretty much what District 155 said about the Main Street and Route 14/Vulcan Lakes projects. District 47’s board only authorized opposition to the Vulcan Lakes district.

Why?

Ironically, it was not because the two school districts would lose any tax dollars.

While they would not get the increased tax revenue from the TIF districts for the next 23 years, since both are below their maximum tax rates because of the ratcheting down effect of the Property Tax Cap, both would just raise their tax rates on everybody.

That means you and me and everyone else living in any tax district to which the TIF district properties pay taxes would have our tax rates and, therefore, bills hiked so the city fathers and mothers can play economic development games with the real estate tax dollars being diverted from the TIF.

In Lindenhurst, a town of 14,000, village officials was a town center. Quaintly, they will call it “Village Green.” It will be on 190 acres at the intersection of Route 45 and Grand Avenue.

Not exactly a shabby location.

Grayslake High School District 127, Woodland Grade School District 50 and Millburn Grade School District 24 are objecting. The schools estimate a tax loss of $141 million over the 23 years to local tax districts.

In Crystal Lake’s case the schools forced a 3/5-majority vote for approval on one of the TIF districts.

In neighboring Cary, the Village President Steve Lamal marshaled other tax districts having less at stake and managed to put down Grade School District 26’s and District 155’s revolt. Not that the village president had to worry about whether the vote were a simple or a 3/5-majority.

= = = = =
Photo is of the old Cary village hall on Route 14 that is now in Cary's new TIF district.

This was first posted on McHenry County Blog, where an exploration of State Rep. Jack Frank's attempt to elect a Democrat to the McHenry County Board continues.

5 comments:

JB Powers 8:02 AM  

TIF Districts vs. School Boards is much like a grudge match between Nick Bockwinkle vs. Ray Stevens.

I am going with Bockwinkle vs. Stevens, as boths sides are only play acting at providing an education and economic development, and hold these staged events to continue their act.

No matter which bad guy wins the fight you can be sure that they will return to graft and incompetence.

Extreme Wisdom 6:08 PM  

Gotta go with JB here.

Anything that keeps $$ out of the hands of schools is a good thing. At least a developer won't mis-educate our kids while crying poor.

Given that the schools aren't keeping up with the Chinese or Indians, maybe the flush developer can hire the kids to build or sell their condos.

JB Powers 10:30 PM  

Hey Bruno,

How about my wrestling analogy? I was going with Iran vs. Iraq, but toned it down to two greats of the AWA, the Crippler and former champ Nick Bockwinkle?

JBP

JB Powers 10:31 PM  

Tricky Nick Bockwinkle, that is.
JBP

WhatTheHelen 11:23 PM  

Dear Mr. Wisdom:

You may need some edge-ju-mu-kay-shun on the TIF issues that will visit your community.

As in Chicago, it will certainly devolve into a money laundering scheme where developers get TIF contracts, then kick back some of the ill-gotten money made to the campaign coffers of those who provided the contract in the first place.

Take a look at how Helen Shiller, alderman in the 46th ward of Chicago does it - she is a master. Just browse these posts, and you'll get the idea...

Pete Spreads the Taxpayer Wealth. He's a Freakin' Political Santa Claus.

Santa Claus Part II - Dan Burke and Chicago Community Development

Piper Rudnick - All the Good Government Money Can Buy

And finally, check out this video about the corruption swirling around the nexus between government, TIF districts, developers, big business, and their lobbyists....

Do you like the idea of your taxes going up, and having your hard earned cash going into the pockets of the well connected, who will then transfer some of the booty into the bank accounts of your locally elected officials?

Meanwhile, the kids are reading from textbooks that are 15 years old, and they can't even take the books home because there are other kids in the school who have to share them.

Meanwhile, your parks and playgrounds are falling apart and the part time security guards that were hired have to be let go.

Meanwhile, your library has stopped buying new books, and has turned the thermostat down to 62 in order to save a few bucks on gas.

But at least the developers can afford to buy a new Mercedes at the local dealership, and your city council members have a few bucks in their re-election war chests.


Sincerely,


What The Helen

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