Crystal Lake’s 75 Percent Sales Tax Hike Will Benefit Developers

One of the arguments made by Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley and his majority on the city council for the 75% city sales tax increase was that the city would use $3 million of the money to relocate the Main Street Union Pacific Railroad spur.

That and the development of Vulcan Lakes were the two main arguments presented. Vulcan was to cost $10 million. A senior citizen center would take most of the rest of the money–$3 million.

It was the second time I had heard a pitch for the city subsidize the Hummel Group’s development by relocating the Main Street spur.

The first was during the discussion of the Main Street TIF.

That Tax Increment Financing District was going to extract more money from us to subsidize the company developing the old Hines (before that Rosenthal) Lumber Company property.

The developer wanted to be able to get out on Main Street, but couldn’t as long as the railroad spur was there.

So, the Main Street TIF was going to solve his problem.

Here’s a paragraph from the Main Street TIF story:

“There are many different sources of funding, not one of which involves raising taxes or touching our taxpayers,” (Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron) Shepley said, calling the report “a shining beacon.”

One would have to wonder if Mayor Shepley’s recently approved 75% sales tax increase “involves raising taxes or touching our taxpayers.”

But, to hear the debate last month on Mayor Shepley’s 75% sales tax increase, you’d think none of the folks voting for it had ever heard of the Main Street TIF.

Of course, the TIF boundary stopped at the spur that goes into the Farr manufacturing plant and the black plastic erosion control barriers marching west from what could be a westerly intersection of Congress Expressway are not in the Main Street TIF district.

This is the land being developed by the Immanuel Lutheran Church which Mayor Shepley made certain would not connect Walkup Avenue on which he lives with the street that runs between Jewel and Hobby Lobby.

Why should Crystal Lake shoppers be forced to subsidize the moving of railroad tracks?

Why shouldn’t the developers who will benefit from its removal pay for it?

When the shopping center where Jewel is now located was built a way was found to cross those same tracks.

I wonder how that happened without a pocket-picking TIF district or the more straight-forward way of emptying our pockets to subsidize developers—Mayor Shepley’s 75% sale tax hike.

And, lest we forget, Vulcan Lakes was going to be redeveloped through a TIF district as well.

And the City of Crystal Lake started giving the park district lower developer impact fees in order to help finance the development of Vulcan Lakes.

Maybe Crystal Lakers should be thankful the Main Street railroad relocation price is “only” $3 million. Developers in Oak Park are asking for subsidies of $27 to $41 million.

All photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.

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