Accompanying the following press release from School District 300 was this email message:
If you haven’t already done so, please read the following urgent news release issued by Community Unit School District 300 this evening about the new legislation filed today (House Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 397) on the Sears EDA extension: http://www.d300.org/news/29860.
It is possible that some D300 community members will be protesting at/near Sears headquarters tomorrow and Tuesday (especially around 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., as drivers are going to/from
To be very clear, they are NOT protesting Sears.
But through phone calls and visits, they will be asking Sears leaders to put pressure on state legislators to file another amendment this week so the legislation will truly focus on helping Sears not Hoffman Estates.
D300 leaders will continue to be very visible (wearing red) at the State Capitol all week until a vote is taken on this bill.
D300 opposes “money grab” for Hoffman Estates in new EDA legislation
SPRINGFIELD – Legislation filed shortly before today’s legal deadline (3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27) by Rep. John Bradley violates several key provisions of the tentative agreement that was reached last week to extend the Sears EDA.
These last-minute changes will perpetuate the unfair tax shift from the Village of Hoffman Estates onto D300 taxpayers for up to 15 more years.
Just last week, after tens of thousands of community members spent several weeks making calls, emails, petitions, protests, office visits, and official testimony to pressure state legislators to do the right thing, a fair and reasonable compromise seemed within reach.
D300 was finally invited to the negotiations table on November 16, and a compromise agreement appeared near completion.
Superintendent Michael Bregy said he was deeply saddened that changes to the tentative agreement have now forced the district to strongly oppose the new legislation.
He called the legislation a money grab for Hoffman Estates.
“The rug has once again been pulled out from under 21,000 students at the last minute,” Bregy said.
“We were so close to feeling that democracy still had a home in Illinois, and now we’re back to square one. The people’s voices are still being silenced.”
Today’s amended legislation, which also gives poorly funded incentives to CME Group, small businesses, and the working poor, is detailed here (House Amendment 3 of Senate Bill 397).
It has been assigned for consideration by the House Rules Committee.
Although no hearing date/time has been set for the Rules Committee, sources indicate the committee will consider the issue tomorrow (Monday, Nov. 28).
The General Assembly is expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday, November 29, during a special legislative session, although this vote may not occur until Wednesday.
D300 leaders are continuing to study today’s newly filed legislation. For now, here are the district’s six primary concerns:
1. During negotiations, it was verbally agreed that Hoffman Estates should not be allowed to use any EDA taxes to operate the village-owned Sears Centre Arena or make bond payments on the Sears Centre Arena. (The village owes more than $50 million in bonds on the arena, which it acquired in 2009.) But in today’s newly filed legislation, it is still not clear whether Hoffman Estates would be legally allowed to make bond payments using EDA taxes. The legislation must be clarified to specifically prohibit this. “How can any public servant allow school property taxes to be used to make payments on a facility that hosts half-naked women for lingerie football?” Bregy said. “If this legislation is passed, it will set a dangerous precedent for school districts all across the state who will be forced to subsidize entertainment facilities. If Rosemont can’t use taxes to make bond payments on the Allstate Arena, why should Hoffman Estates be able to pay off the Sears Centre Arena using taxes? ”
2. The Village of Hoffman Estates will continue to get an unfair amount of D300 school property taxes. Hoffman Estates would be guaranteed $5 million a year to administrate the EDA, which is $1.7 million more than normal taxation would give the village. Most of that extra $1.7 million comes directly from D300 school property taxes. In other words, Hoffman Estates will get 150% of the municipal taxes it would normally get in a standard tax distribution process, while D300 will only get roughly 30% of what it would normally get. “Sears and the General Assembly should require Hoffman Estates to compromise,” Bregy said, “and to stop using our school funding as an unending revenue source for the village’s operating budget.”
3. During negotiations, state legislators gave Hoffman Estates two options: either its annual payment would be a flat amount, or it would be subject to increases and decreases in the property value (EAV) of the EDA property. But in today’s newly filed legislation, Hoffman Estates would get both. The village would not only get a guaranteed $5 million a year from the EDA, but it will also get a cut of any increase in the property value over the next 15 years.
4. The Village of Hoffman Estates wants the district to promise not to sue the village over past, present or future uses of EDA funds, and it also wants an additional $350,000 from the EDA (above and beyond its $5 million administration fee) to cover its legal bills if any community members decide to file a taxpayers’ lawsuit. Village leaders are very nervous about their use of the EDA taxes, as they spent an hour during negotiations on Nov. 16 begging the district not to sue the village. Sadly, today’s newly filed legislation would give D300 school property taxes to Hoffman Estates to cover its legal expenses if a D300 parent or any other private citizen sued the village about the EDA. “How ironic is it that our students would have to pay to defend the village for taking money from our students?” Bregy said.
5. During negotiations, it was verbally agreed that Sears would only be able to be repaid for its past loans to build its facility and develop the EDA property, which it has testified is about $125 million. But in the newly filed legislation, Sears could make claims for any additional loans that it gets during the next three years. This is especially negative for D300 because the legislation was supposed to make the EDA automatically end when Sears was repaid, which would have been roughly 10 to 12 years if the repayment was capped to $125 million as discussed. If the EDA goes a full 15 years due to more loans for Sears, D300 will miss out on $30-$50 million that an early exit from the EDA would have given the school system.
6. During negotiations, it was verbally agreed that the amount of Sears’ loans would be certified by an independent auditor. But in the newly filed legislation, no one from the outside would be able to verify the amount. It would instead by verified by Sears executives.