The Vulcan Lake TIF District will suck millions out of the property tax bills of homeowners and businessmen throughout McHenry County over the next twenty or so years. Until other tax districts reach their statutory maximum every tax district that includes part of the Three Oaks Recreation Area will be able to raise their tax rates to make up for the revenue lost in the Route 14 TIF District.
Included on the Tax Rate Calculation page of the McHenry County Clerk’s Office are totals for taxes levied on property within TIF Districts.
Tax Increment Financing Districts are mechanisms that allow municipalities to pry money out everyone in McHenry County who have property outside of the district in question.
This past year the following was taxed so that city councils and village boards could have what amount to unaccountable petty cash funds to distribute to those with property within the TIF districts.
The petitions for re-election are being circulated for Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley and Council members Cathy Ferguson, Ellen Brady Mueller and Brett Hopkins.
The festivities were problem in front of the building you see next to the play area.
And, just in time for the campaign, there is an election kick-off party that required the of spending well over $10 million. $14.37 million, according to the Northwest Herald.
As pointed out in 2005, there was a cheaper way, at least for Crystal Lake area residents.
There was no need for a Tax Increment Financing District to pay for turning Vulcan Lakes into Three Oaks Recreation Area.
Indeed the announcement that a TIF would be formed to finance the project was what stimulated me to start McHenry County Blog. $115 million would be available, said the city’s consultant. Bill Cellini’s group won the contract from the council to do the development, but backed away from it after his name coming up in the Tony Rezko trial.
TIFs are just a way to force everyone (yes, everyone in any overlapping tax district, and because of McHenry County government and the McHenry County Conservation District, that means all county resident) not living in the TIF to pay for it.
It’s a tax increase that the city council voted on all of us.
Oh, wait. That isn’t the way it’s being financed.
With the recession and the decimation of the commercial strip on the Vulcan Lake side of Route 14, the city couldn’t sell bonds to pay for the enormous cost of TORA.
Tall street lights line the roads. This one runs to the parking lot area from Main Street.
MCCD undoubtedly would not have spent, how much, hundreds of thousands of dollars on fancy street lights for a facility that closes at sunset.
That way was to convince the McHenry County Conservation District to take it over.
Had the council done so, our area would have finally gotten back some of the tens of millions of our tax dollars that has been redistributed north, northwest and west, like a kid slinging a bucket of water. The pockets of those in District 47 have ended up as empty as the bucket, another victim of Illinois’ having way too many local governmental units.
But control of the facility was the primary goal of city officials.
And maybe their names on a plaque. The edifice complex in action.
Bragging rights they have achieved include
having been instrumental in constructing the facility and
like Barack Obama, forcing the payment for it on their grandchildren.
Not to mention the ability to feature on their campaign literature what a great accomplishment opening the facility has been.
I couldn’t get close enough to take photos of the council members taking credit for the project without paying $5 for parking.
Not worth the price, so I’ll just run photos of the six council members who voted to raise the city sales tax 75%. There won’t be the same backdrop, but credit will go where it is due.
Mayor Aaron Shepley
Councilman Ralph Dawson
Councilwoman Cathy Ferguson
Former Councilman Dave Goss
Councilman Brett Hopkins
Councilwoman Ellen Brady Mueller
Shepley, Ferguson, Hopkins and Brady Mueller are up for election next spring. Expect to see TORA on their campaign literature…assuming they even have an opponent requiring them to print any.
New McHenry County Blog Masthead which contains a picture of the Norge Ski Jump in Fox River Grove, something unique to McHenry County.
It was October, 2005, when the Vulcan Lakes TIF proposal by the city council spurred me to start McHenry County Blog.
I knew–and knew that most others didn’t–that every dollar that gets poured into a Tax Increment Financing District’s project comes out of your and my pockets.
That’s because local tax districts are not at their maximum tax rates, as governed by state law.
The Property Tax Cap has forced those tax rates down while real estate values increased far faster than the increase in the cost of living.
This is parking attendant building for the Three Oaks Recreation Area. I invite you to compare it to the portable, wooden one used by the Crystal Lake Park District at the Main Beach Parking Lot.
So, if the value of your house went up 10% one year and the CPI increased 3%, the tax rate of each district had to be decreased to make sure its tax take would not exceed the CPI.
A bit complicated, but the result is that no tax district is at its maximum rate limit.
That means when assessed value is stolen from it by a city’s or village’s creation of a TIF district, the other tax district (read school district, park district, county government, you name it) can just increase the tax rate to get the same amount of money it would have otherwise received.
That’s why I called it a “TIF Tax Hike.”
So, with “free money,” you can expect that cities and villages won’t be too careful with it.
Take a look at the new fee collection gate being constructed at Vulcan Lakes…oops, Three Oaks Recreation Area, a place with precious few oaks, I would imagine. (You can see other pictures here on the city’s web site.)
Compare that to the one used by the Crystal Lake Park District. It’s portable. Made of wood.
Crystal Lake has an unnatural asset called Vulcan Lake, an old gravel pit.
The big one is larger than Crystal Lake…by a lot.
Everyone knows that waterfront views add value to real estate.
Just ask those living on Crystal Lake.
The hot neighborhood rumor a couple of years ago was that the last lot had been purchased for $450,000.
Instead of approving a highrise where those living on the upper floors could see Vulcan Lakes over the evergreens, the old outdoor movie theater site ended up as townhouses that could have gone pretty much anywhere.
While it’s also across Pingree Road from Vulcan Lakes, there is a lot of land south of Three Oaks Roads which was zoned for industrial buildings. I guess that was in the 1980′s.
Why city planners did not find a way to maximize the value of the land fronting on Pingree is beyond me. Industrial buildings are not the highest and best use of this land.
For more than a year, I’ve noticed an empty factory building at the intersection of Pingree and Tek Drive. It’s on the northeast corner.
I picture a restaurant overlooking Vulcan Lake on a second or third floor location.
If a friend hadn’t emailed me the correction made by the Northwest Herald today, I would have missed the small notice on page 2.
Under Corrections & Clarifications, the paper reports that the parking fee at Vulcan Lakes will be $5, not the $50 printed yesterday in its lead front page article.
That’s a more realistic fee.
It atill seems to me that most folks with local connections will go to the Main Beach. Out of park district residents pay $5 for parking and admission fees, unless they are the guest of a resident. Then, four free guests are allowed each day.
Both Vulcan Lakes and the Main Beach will charge non-residents fees, which are fairly competitive, although Main Beach seems to be less for children.