As much as $6 million a year tax shift from businesses in two proposed Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIFs) to us homeowners and other businesses has been proposed by the Mayor and City Council.
Over 23 years, something in the neighborhood of $138 million that otherwise would help our schools, park and other tax districts will be available to subsidize developers along Rt. 14 and Main St. TIF districts were first passed to help blighted areas. Anyone see any blight on Main St. or Rt. 14? Multi-million sales have been reported for both this year.
The way a TIF works is that the assessed valuation is frozen when the council votes (scheduled Nov.15th ). Real estate taxes are still collected, but they do not go to our schools, MCC, park and other local governments. Taxes on any increase in value will be spent as the city council sees fit in the TIF districts.
Because our schools, etc., won’t be able to tax as much as $100 million of assessed valuation for 23 years, they will raise the tax rates for the rest of us. We will pay more so the schools, etc., can replace the lost taxes the city will be spending to help the developers on Rt. 14 and Main St.
In what can only be called an amazing coincidence, the Northwest Herald reported Conlon-Collins sold it property for over $7 million (right after the TIF proposals were made public.) The property is only assessed for $725,000 now, instead of about three times that high. Hines Lumber sold for millions, too, this summer.
In the Main Street TIF, another financing method is available—one that does not cost homeowners one cent. It’s called a Special Area Assessment. It is meant to pay for improvements that will benefit special property owners. CL uses them to allow developers to charge new homeowners for streets, sewers, etc. State Motor Fuel Tax given the city is another way to pay for road improvements.
The Rt. 14 TIF seems to primarily to pay for Vulcan Lakes improvements, some of which could have been obtained from Vulcan before it stopped mining. A boardwalk along the lakes is apparently planned with waterfront dining, maybe a hotel and other waterfront businesses. The city also talks about selling part of the land along Pingree Road for $500,000 2-bedroom lakefront condos. Again, a Special Service Area assessment would seem appropriate. Another alternative that would not raise our tax rates would be to convince the McHenry County Conservation District to finally spend some of the millions it has collected in Crystal Lake. Either alternative would not force our tax rates up.
This tax hike on us can be approved by the city council as soon as Nov. 15th. If you don’t want your tax rate to go up because of these two TIFs, call Mayor Shepley at 477-4761 and Council Members Ellen Brady Mueller at 477-4502, Howie Christensen at 459-1153, Ralph Dawson at 459-1505, Cathy Ferguson at 477-7254, Dave Goss at 455-3365, and Jeff Thorsen at 455-5695. Send emails to comments@CrystalLake.org. Just put the person’s name in the title line.
Attend the Nov. 1st hearing at City Hall at 7:30 and the Nov.15th council approval meeting to voice your opinion.
For more information, see McHenryCountyBlog.com. For leaflets, call 459-3506.