When Is a Crystal Lake TIF Tax Shift Not a Tax Hike?

When Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley says so.

Or, at least, that is what he would have the audience and fellow council members believe if his performance at Tuesday night’s city council is any indication.

Apparently, he was smarting from the headline in a leaflet he said was delivered to his home on Halloween Eve. (Actually, it got there earlier.)

“Mayor Shepley/City Council Plan Tax Hike” is what the headline of the broadside said, although in larger letters.

“It’s not a tax!” he emphasized. “It does not add a layer of tax. In fact, if your own property is inside or out of a TIF district, you pay the same tax rate.”

Later, Shepley asked, “Is this a tax hike in any way shape or form?”

“No,” Teske President Brown replied. “Through adopting the district you have no influence on tax rates.”

He then virtually paragraph by paragraph through the leaflet criticizing its assumptions.

Brown even gave a convoluted argument that taxes were being shifted to everyone outside the tax district area right now because its growth in assessed valuation was lower than in the rest of the city for most of the last five years.

All of this was rebutted by District 47 and District 155 officials, as can be seen in articles that appear below.

District 47 Superintendent Ron Miller rebutted his argument by pointing out that the average growth in assessed valuation figure includes not only inflationary growth, which is levied uniformly through township multipliers, but probably includes all the new growth. Miller suggested the new construction should be backed out before comparisons are made.

Shepley did not know until later when Cal Skinner testified that Teska and Associates’ President had refused to provide the detailed estimates of how much and how quickly the assessed valuation in the TIF districts would ramp up before the leaflet went to press. He characterized them as “internal working papers.”

What Brown did not say at the Friday meeting or at the Tuesday public hearing is that the figures will have to made public in the bond perspective when the city seeks to borrow the $30 million for the Vulcan Lakes/Route 14 TIF project and $35 million for the Main Street TIF. Investors will demand to know how the money will be repaid.

Then, Lee Brown, the tax-paid consultant the city hired to design and sell the TIF districts, gave the most optimistic version of what TIF districts can accomplish, claiming “These two areas in our community need more vitality.”

Ignored was the $3.2 million auction sale of the old Hines Lumber property this summer to a Palatine firm called Crystal Lake Gateway, LLC. Also ignored was the reported $7.2 million sale of Conlon-Collins Ford to a Barrington developer.

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