Thursday, May 27, 2010

Senate takes up McPier and STAR bonds

McCormick Place

Both legislative chambers overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto on Senate Bill 28, which was intended to reform the operations of the McCormick Place convention facility and Navy Pier in Chicago.

Quinn took issue
with the legislature appointing a trustee to oversee the agency commonly called “McPier.” He has publicly criticized lawmakers' choice of Jim Reilly, a former House member and the current chief executive officer of McPier. Quinn said there was no process to remove or replace a trustee. He wanted the bill to specifically require McPier to adhere to state procurement laws. He also removed a $2 taxi tax on rides to and from the city’s two airports.

The General Assembly shot down the governor’s changes but passed what legislators see as a compromise bill that would address the procurement and trustee succession issues.

STAR Bonds

By Rachel Wells

The city of Marion may have a shot at destination development and better unemployment rates if the governor signs legislation allowing for what’s been called Illinois’ largest tax incentive.

Supporters hope that through sales tax and revenue (also known as STAR) bonds, SB 2093 will entice investors to choose Marion as the place to build a major outdoor sports store and a water park or a music venue similar to that in Branson, Mo., said Sen. Gary Forby, a Benton Democrat.
Under the measure, developer Holland Construction Services would receive a portion of the new tax revenues the project brings in to help pay for up to 50 percent of the project’s cost. Nearby schools would also receive 15 percent of new property tax revenues resulting from the development.

Forby said the project, the details of which have not yet been solidified, could bring visitors from seven states to an otherwise economically distressed region and provide thousands of jobs.

The Illinois Department of Revenue estimated that the STAR bond district would cost the state $287.5 million to $437.5 million in future sales taxes, revenues resulting from the STAR bond development.

While Forby and fellow sponsor Marion Democratic Rep. John Bradley have the support of most entities within 25 miles of the project, Mount Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley said her city, about 40 miles away, would suffer unless it’s included in the legislation.

“All we’re asking for is to give us the same tools to promote growth that has been proposed for Marion and provide a level playing field to attract much-needed businesses to our area and to the state of Illinois.”

Forby argued that spreading the district out would dampen its ability to raise revenues. “You need a project where [businesses] all come together so they can draw from each other.”

The bill passed in the House earlier this month.


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