Fighting the Woodstock Tax Increment Financing District

From Seneca Township’s Susan Handelsman:

WOODSTOCK TIF 2: TAXPAYERS SELF-DEFENSE OPTIONS

  1. Detach southern/western portion of taxable properties from Woodstock CUSD 200.

 A second school district could be created from the old high school and new Dean Street school complex. New Administration would be more efficiently distributed, to reduce top-heavy overhead costs.

Old debts could be equitably divided, and the SW Woodstock school district– having no portion of property eligible for TIF funding–would only be required to participate in funding TIF to the extent that OTHER non-school-district County-wide taxes overlap.

  1. BEG, GROVEL, and offer inducements to be annexed into either Lakewood or Huntley Village & School Districts. (Lakewood property within Woodstock D200 already has a legitimate case to beg for detachment/annexation into Huntley or Crystal Lake School Districts).

Woodstock D200 Boards have voted in collusion with Woodstock City recommendations over the past 15 years, resulting in a property tax rate consistently far above 4% of full fair market home value (see property tax rates in America; 4% is a catastrophic outlier).

Woodstock D200 has amassed so much debt (evading Statutory Debt Maximum Rates by utilizing sneaky debt instruments like CABs), so far above statutory debt caps, that its citizens can NEVER expect to be out from under that burden).

  1. Create ANOTHER TIF which encompasses as much property as possible which is NOT in Woodstock TIF 2.

This would be open to the unincorporated properties outside Woodstock City. We would need to incorporate as a municipality; the Village could be named Tifville.

By charter: Rather than subject Village rulers to the temptation of handing out TIF money to friends: All the TIF incremental property tax proceeds could be returned pro rata to the property owners who paid them (for TIF-eligible blight amelioration).

There could also be a bonus pool created for non-development property:

For example, if a farm property were to be turned into a high-rise office building, the p-tax paid by the property owner on the developed property (for 35 years) would only be that of farmland. Because his neighbors would be impacted, Tifville could hold, say, 15% of the gross TIF increment-derived p-tax income for pro rata  distribution to the pool of ALL Tifville property owners.  IMAGINE what the value of any parcel of TIFVILLE property would be!

(Woodstock D200 would be obligated to educate any and all Tifville residents’ children essentially for free, for an assumed 35 or more years…because just as Woodstock TIF 1 is being rolled into Woodstock TIF 2, so too would Tifville TIF 1 be eligible to be rolled into Tifville TIF 2!!

  1. BOYCOTT TIF businesses and TIF public money recipients.

TIF properties will have tens of million$ of (primarily) NON-TIF taxpayers’ money to protect themselves from blight. By Woodstock’s own argument, we NON-TIFFERS are all in blight or in danger of blight.

As All properties outside TIF fall further into blight and decay, and decrease in assessed value, homes and businesses will be in no position to compete with shiny new TIF 2 properties.

Therefore, citizens would be best served to very publicly BOYCOTT Woodstock TIF 2 businesses’ and residents’ interests in order to support the decaying businesses’ and homeowners’ interests. Especially given the cruel irony that those suffering that NON-TIF blight and lost business are burdened with subsidizing the TIF owners’ PROFITS through their own INCREASED property taxes.

  1. Make Woodstock politicians pay a political price.

Citizens have no power to keep politicians from being appointed to lucrative board positions with tremendous defined benefit and insurance packages, or quids from being pro quo’ed.

But in this particular instance Woodstock voters may at least ensure that the current Mayor and City Council who are empowered to hire and fire highly compensated City Manager and ‘Economic Development’ employees, all of whom have coordinated to engineer this TIF, are not kept around long enough to decide WHO in particular gets the entire $50-$100 million of Woodstock TIF 2 TAXPAYER’s money.

  1. Offer greenmail to the politicians and landowners pushing this proposal.

The cost this TIF will extract from Woodstock School District 200 taxpayers (and other McHenry County taxpayers) is large and quantifiable. Adding the expected inflationary increment of lost tax revenue ($22 mil at year 23, $55 mil at year 35) to the predicted additional annual education cost of over $5 million for new TIF-enrollment, you get a large number which might be offered to land speculators who own key properties within the TIF footprint.

Taxpayers will not only lose the nominal value of tax revenue every year to subsidize this TIF, but will suffer devaluation of their own properties every year as a function of tax rate capitalization. (At over 4% property tax rates, Woodstock properties devalue ~3% annually relative to properties all over America which pay ~1.15% property tax rates in return for similar quality social service provision (schools, police, government, etcetera).

It is cheaper to form a self-defense coalition to pay off TIF promoters than to suffer the net effect of the TIF going forward.

One method of greenmail payment might be to outright purchase land holdings at inflated prices. Another might be to fund litigation forcing the municipality to initiate eminent domain proceedings to force unwilling landowners holding parcels assessed at nearly zero (paying nearly zero property taxes) into development deals whereby the developer is willing to pay fair-share property taxes going forward. Woodstock TIF report indicates a willingness to use eminent domain to force individual families out of their homes, but the ‘greater good’ would be served by commercial and industrial, rather than residential, development.


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