TIFing the Fox River Valley

The developer paid $17 million for the northwest corner of the intersection of Routes 31 and 72, but he needs a subsidy from District 300 taxpayers to make the “Fashion Corner” work.

By anyone’s definition, this is a prime retail corner.

It appears from Rebecca O’Halloran’s Elgin Courier-News article that West Dundee’s elected officials agree. They have authorized a study to see if a Tax Increment Financing district could be former.

While the study is required by law, the law will allow even vacant farmland to be put in a TIF district (think Huntley’s mall), so that such a study will find that a TIF district could be formed is a foregone conclusion.

While it is obvious who the winner will be, it is less obvious who will be the losers.

City officials will probably echo Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley.

He insisted Crystal Lake’s TIF districts would not raise anyone’s taxes.

Persuasive arguments were made by Crystal Lake Grade School District Superintendent Ron Miller, however.

He pointed out that his school district would not lose any tax dollars, but only because its tax rates were below their maximums because of the effects of the Property Tax Cap.

That meant that the school board would get the maximum allowed under the Tax Cap by raising its tax rate on all other property owners in its district.

In the Crystal Lake City Council debate, some councilmen agreed that there would be a tax shift. If you read the linked article, you will see that District 47 ended up neutral, but that was because it got significant monetary concessions.

And this threat to raise the taxes of homeowners did not just surface in West Dundee.

The Daily Courier also has an article by Dave Gathman about a proposed TIF in South Elgin.

Could this be an opportunity for proponents and opponents of last year’s referendums to come together on an issue?

School boards have some, but not much influence in the process. If they lobby other local governments, whose taxpayers would also have their bills rise because of the 23-year tax shift, the board might obtain enough votes in the Joint Review Meeting to require a 2/3-approval vote of the West Dundee Village Board.

They could even follow the hard ball lead of the Richmond Grade School Board. It sent a mailing attacking a Tax Increment Financing district to every household in its district.

Richmond Township government even joined in.

The Richmond School District won that fight, by the way.

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