Views of the Woodstock School District Prompted by the Lakewood TIF Proposal

From reader Susan.  Facts about the Woodstock School District which she extracted from the Official Statement of 2014 General Obligation Bonds issued by D200.

Numbers are worse in Woodstock CUSD 200.

This is where Lakewood will insert the children of the tif, to be entirely paid for by taxpayers outside Lakewood –taxpayers who receive zero benefit from the tif money.

tifs benefit from HIGH tax RATES. They are rewarded for rising tax rates, as they are paid tax rate multiplied by their incremental EAV each year.

Woodstock D200 increased extension by 17% in these years…

Numbers are worse in Woodstock CUSD 200.

This is where Lakewood will insert the children of the tif, to be entirely paid for by taxpayers outside Lakewood –taxpayers who receive zero benefit from the tif money.

tifs benefit from HIGH tax RATES. They are rewarded for rising tax rates, as they are paid tax rate multiplied by their incremental EAV each year.

Woodstock D200 increased extension by 17% in these years….

There won't be snow at Woodstock North High School next Sunday, but there will be jobs.

Woodstock North High School

Woodstock District 200 taxes extended:

  • 2007/2008: $49,755,767
  • 2008/2009: $52,938,640
  • 2009/2010: $53,532,740
  • 2010/2011: $54,544,456
  • 2011/2012: $55,765,915
  • 2012/2013: $58,177,079

As property values sharply declined…

EAV of District by Levy Year:

  • 2008: $1,128,047,545
  • 2009: $1,117,370,497
  • 2010: $1,066,023,673
  • 2011: $953,072,406
  • 2012: $843,158, 926

(Page 19)

So tax RATES rose sharply…

Woodstock D200 Tax Rates:

  • 2008: 4.6929%
  • 2009: 4.7909%
  • 2010: 5.1166%
  • 2011: 5.8511%
  • 2012: 6.8998%
  • 2013: 7.74%
  • 2014: 8.18%

(Numbers above show a 65% increase in tax rate from 2008 to 2013)

(Page 20)

As District homeowners found themselves encumbered by debt far in excess of statutory caps meant to protect them…

2012 EAV of the school District, in 2012: $843,158,926

2012 estimated full value of taxable property: $2,529,476,778

2014 General Obligation [GO] Bonded Debt: $124,700,940 ( principal only, not including accrued unpaid interest debt)

2014 other direct GO debt: $657,922

Population estimate: 24770

Percentage to full value of Taxable Property: 4.96% ( not considering accrued and owed interest)

Per capita debt: $5061 ( again not considering interest accrued and owed)

Statutory debt limit ( including existing Woodstock tif property) at 13.8% of 2012 EAV: $117,109,917

GO Bonded debt: $124,700,940

GO Other Debt: $657,922


D200 EAV has dropped sharply since 2012.

Borrowing ability of D200 is tied to EAV.

Borrowing ability is currently hampered by pesky 13.8% statutory cap.

Tif will sharply escalate EAV for District– but falsely, since no portion of elevated EAV may be taxed by District.

However, it can be borrowed against.

D200 taxpayers currently owe 4.96% of 2012 assessed total property value ($5061 per capita) on behalf of D200 debt. …but that’s just principal.

When you include total debt service, that is principal plus INTEREST,…do the math on figures cited below…

(Page 18)

Direct GO Bonded Debt (Principal Only): total $124,700,940

(Page 15)

Direct GO Bonded Debt (Principal and Interest): total $225,955,186
(page 16)

SOURCES: Official Statement of 2014 General Obligation Bonds issued by D200. The Official Statement in turn cites sources such as McHenry County Clerk, Treasurer, or the School District itself. Page numbers below refer to pages within the Official Statement.

= = = = =
The Village of Lakewood will hold public meetings on the SportsPlex, which would benefit from the proposed TIF-financed water and sewer extensions, Tuesday night at 7 at the Turnberry Country Club. A zoning meeting will be held next Tuesday, same time, same place.


Views of the Woodstock School District Prompted by the Lakewood TIF Proposal — 17 Comments

  1. “In most cases, taxpayers outside the TIF pay more to generate the revenue requested by the taxing districts.

    For example, if a taxing district requests $1 Million, and $300,000 is diverted to a TIF, the taxpayers must pay an additional $300,000 to make that district whole.”

    – 2:34 mark

    Understanding TIFs
    by Cook County Clerk

    In other words:

    $1,000,000 Taxing District Requests $1 Million Dollars
    – $300,000 Diverted to TIF District (Municipality i.e. Lakewood)
    = $700,000 Taxing Districts Now Short $300,000
    + $300,000 Taxpayers Outside TIF Pay an Additional $300,000 to make that district whole.

    In other words:

    Taxpayers >>> $1,000,000 >>> Taxing Districts >>> $300,000 >>> TIF District.

    Taxpayers >>> $300,000 >>> Taxing Districts.

    TIF = Tax Increase in most cases.

    That’s how it works in Cook County.

    Does it work the same in McHenry County?

    Now the TIF may be justified even if it is a tax hike.

    But the municipality should clearly identify the TIF as a tax hike and justify the hike.

    So the missing link is taxpayer TIF funds that are diverted from the taxing districts to the TIF, are replenished by taxpayers outside the TIF providing additional taxes to the taxing districts.

    There is a replenishment piece to the puzzle.

    The McHenry County Clerk has no such video or TIF section on their website.

  2. Here are some numbers extracted from school reports for D-200:

    Prop. Tax Incr. 2005 – 2014 116.88 %

    TOTAL Revenue Incr. 2005 – 2014 84.28 %

    Greenwood Elementary Rank out of 1,913 = 985
    Olson Elementary Rank out of 1,913 = 1,008
    Westwood Elementary l Rank out of 1,913 = 1,011
    Prairiewood Elementary Rank out of 1,913 = 1,032
    Mary Endres Elementary Rank out of 1,913 = 1,348
    Dean Street Elementary Rank out of 1,913 = 1,405
    Woodstock High School Rank out of 670 = 176
    Woodstock North High School Rank out of 670 = 297
    Creekside Middle School Rank out of 1,279 = 499
    Northwood Middle School Rank out of 1,279 = 702

    District Cost / pupil Instruction 2007 $5,241
    District Cost / pupil Instruction 2014 $6,063

    District Cost / Pupil TOTAL 2007 $ 10,937
    District Cost / Pupil TOTAL 2014 $ 12,445

    Class Size 2007 = 20
    Class Size 2014 = 21

    Low Income Students 2007 = 30.7 %
    Low Income Students 2014 = 49.0 %

    * Rankings info from:

  3. One of the biggest arguments in favor of TIFs is that they bring increased EAV to the area.

    Where there is increased development:

    there is increased flooding;

    increased need for road salt which pollutes water runoff and could damage our water aquifers;

    more students in schools;

    greater need for increased police and fire department staffing;

    greater burden on social services;

    BUT guess what?

    The increased property tax income is NOT used to fund these services!!

    McHenry County food stamp usage alone has increased by 841 % from 2000 to 2011.

    This indicates that the influx of people over the past decade has significantly increased the burden on ALL taxpayer funded social services.

    If you live in McHenry County do not think for one second this will not affect your property tax!

    All citizens of the County should protest all TIFs because of their impact on other taxing bodies.

    Taxes for the Schools, the County, the Conservation district, the fire districts, the townships, but most of all increased development can make your drinking water non-drinkable due to runoff and salt pollution.

  4. Class size is not real class size because it takes into account administrators (not sure if they account for aides / paraprofessionals, social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, etc.)

    So the actual class size (a real classroom with teachers and students) is actually larger.

    To get actual class size you can submit a FOIA do the school district for the size of each class in each grade, they have that data because they need to submit the number of students to receive general state aid which is the primary state funding for public schools in Illinois.

    District cost per pupil does not take into account:

    – The State Contribution to the TRS Pension Fund for teachers and administrators.

    – The State Contribution to the TRIP / THIS retiree healthcare fund for teachers and administrators.

    – The unfunded liabilities in TRS and TRIP / THIS.

    – Bond debt service that has escalating payments often with larger balloon payments at the end of the payment schedule which will have to be refunded (common in quite a few districts).

    So the actual cost per pupil is larger and would be much larger if TRS and TRIP were funded properly on an annual basis.

    Even with the increased State Contribution to TRS in the last few years, that’s still not enough, as TRS and the other 17 pension funds in Illinois and the General Assembly / Governors (IMRF to a lesser degree) use questionable actuarial practices.

    School Digger likely gets its information from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

    If you are ever looking for more data to supplement school digger, poke around on the ISBE website especially: > Data Analysis and Accountability > R

  5. Although all of this is wonderful in presenting the evidence of why a TIF may be inadvisable, how will this message reach the public?

    If these numbers consistently may either be misinterpreted, misunderstood or messaged around for the politicians who have been elected and have(presumably) a vested interest in understanding them how will all this wonderful commentary actually reach a wider audience?

    How will it be interpreted to be understood by people with a low interest or low understanding? The digging is fantastic.

    The conversation here is stimulating.

    How is all of this going to matter to the point of stopping the nonsense system wide?

  6. I’m a simple guy and I look at this TIF in a simple way:

    1) If subsidies worked in general, then it would make sense for government to subsidize ALL businesses.

    2) We know the above statement is false. Government has a terrible track record with subsidies, which is consistent with the basic principle that the market makes better business decisions than bureaucrats.

    3) Therefore to support THIS subsidy requires OVERWHELMING, DEFINITIVE evidence that ONLY with this subsidy will more development occur in the entire area.

    4) The independent studies of TIF districts are conclusive: most TIFs do NOT result in greater development in the area.

    5) Evidence that the assessed value is likely to go up is NOT proof that this TIF district is likely to provide MORE development in the entire area than if there were NO TIF district.

    6) No other evidence for this TIF district has been offered.

    CONCLUSION: The Lakewood Village Board does not have the evidence to support this TIF.

  7. A big takeaway is the video on the Cook County Clerk website says, “In most cases, taxpayers outside the TIF pay more to generate the revenue requested by the taxing districts.”

    See the first comment in this post.

    That seems to be a tax hike for taxpayers outside the TIF.

    Which is a point Cal has repeatedly made.

    If that’s the case in Cook County, is McHenry County any different?

    Haven’t seen any evidence that TIFs in McHenry County are substantially different in terms of that first sentence than TIFs in Cook County.

  8. Send the Cook County TIF YouTube video URL to your friends.

    That is the easiest way to understand the pros and con’s of TIFs.

    Many people on municipal, county, school district, park district, library, etc boards do not understand TIFs are a tax hike.

    And if they do understand they do not present TIFs as a tax hike.

    The Commercial Club of Chicago states TIFs are not a tax hike and part of what they mean by that is the municipality would have to get the money to make the necessary improvements from another taxpayer source, and we could have a very long back and forth debate about that given any certain TIF project, but the general point is worth considering for TIF projects.

    What matters most is the taxpayers are presented with comprehensive detailed financial and project data about the TIF project, the information is placed on the village website, all presentations to the board about the TIF are included on the village website, and at least a few Q&A sessions are held for the public.

    The Village of Lakewood did not do that for this proposed TIF.

    The Lakewood Village TIF study does not contain enough information for taxpayers to evaluate this project.

    One could send the YouTube URL with a note the Lakewood TIF would increase taxes to McHenry County taxpayers outside the TIF, and they can better understand the process by going to the Lakewood TIF meeting at 7PM tonite and next Tuesday at the Turnberry Country Club.

    From the Village of Lakewood, the developer, and the various special interest perspectives, providing more information to the public increases the chance the project will encounter taxpayer resistance.

    There is no downside to lack of transparency by the village.

    Unless taxpayers demand more information and taxpayers make it clear that if they do not get more information from the Village about the TIF then taxpayers will vote out board members of Lakewood and board members of overlapping taxing districts that do not demand more disclosure about the TIF.

  9. California, Mother of all TIFs (RDA’s), recently abolishes tif’s.

    SEE: California Supreme Court Decision “California Redevelopment Association v. Matosantos”

  10. There are 37 parcels in the TIF, per the TIF study on the village website.

    The 2013 EAV for each parcel is identified, for a total 2013 EAV of 1,796,649.

    That’s nice information.

    But not enough information.

    What was the EAV for previous years for those parcels, say the 10 previous years.

    What is projected EAV without TIF for the next 23 years for those parcels, per year, per parcel, not a lump sum.

    What is projected EAV with TIF for the next 23 years for those parcels, per year, per parcel, not a lump sum.

    How about actual tax revenue?

    What was the tax revenue for those parcels for the past 10 years, per year, per parcel.

    What is projected tax revenue without TIF for those parcels for the next 23 years, per year, per parcel, not a lump sum.

    What is projected tax revenue with TIF for those parcels for the next 23 years, per year, per parcel.

    Then take a look at the neighboring parcels outside the TIF and do some similar calculations.

    Then think, without a TIF, how long will it take someone to build at 176 & 47.

    It is unrealistic to think in the next 23 years the intersection of two state highways, which sit just to the west of nearly fully developed suburban Chicago middle class and upper middle class communities, will not develop in 23 areas.

    So the TIF is a trade-off.

    We want development now, instead of waiting.

    That’s what’s really going on here.

    All the BS about odd shaped innacessible parcels is just creative TIF justification.

    Somehow those odd shaped parcels are OK for baseball and soccer fields but nothing else?

    And your dumbest developer can develop a working golf course into something else, there’s no magic in that.

    So the main issue isn’t even that it’s a TIF, isn’t even that it’s a non profit sportsplex, it’s that the Village has not provided enough information about the proposed TIF and project.

    And there’s plenty of other data the village can provide about the project too, not just the above.

    As far as non-profit, that’s not a main concern if it’s non profit or for profit.

    There’s a lot of people making a lot of money in and off non-profit organizations.

    The Chicagoland area has a lot of non-profits, it’s a huge sector.

    Plenty of people in those non-profits making very good salary and benefits, and plenty of vendors and investors (bond investors, developers, underwriters, bond counsel, financial advisers, etc.) making profit off doing business with non-profits.

    So the fact that it’s a non-profit development is no reason to approve a TIF.

    Presumably there is a financial advantage to be non-profit, and that’s why they chose the non-profit route.

    Taxpayers in Illinois get taken advantage of every day by the lack of transparency in government and this is just another example.

    Look at it like your are spending your personal money to invest in a baseball and soccer field complex.

    Would you write a check to Chicagoland Sportsplex to invest in there project.

    What information would you want to know.

    Because you are in essence writing a check to Chicagoland Sportsplex, with the hope that you will pay less taxes in the future, and the hope project is successful, and maybe because you want to see something at 176 and 47 except farms and golf courses and a few homes and farm buildings, or maybe because your kid is in travel or tournament team baseball and soccer and wouldn’t it be great to just drive down the street instead of to Wisconsin Dells for a tournament.

  11. By the way if Craig Woods and Crystal Woods Golf courses, which are in the proposed Lakewood IL Route 47 & IL Route 176 TIF, get replaced with other development, that is presumably more revenue for RedTail Golf Course which is owned by the Village of Lakewood.

    Red Tail Golf Club was opened to the public in 1992.{100E275B-FA15-43EE-A4EA-C96EE3F3D53B} > Recreation > Golf Courses

  12. For mark: Class size posted is as per the AFR sent to the State.

    If you divide the number of students by the number of teachers reported, you get a much lower number. eg. Alden – Hebron has 450 students and list the teacher count at 35.

    The math comes out to just under 13 students per teacher.

  13. Canine Handler- Points for simplicity.

    Susan- Excellent message to send.

    One of the most liberal and in debt states has decided to leave a failed policy behind and achieved bipartisan support to do so.

    Steve- Once again you have a flair for making a point concisely.

    Mark- Your ability to research and then make certain all the evidence is presented and supported is amazing.

    My question had more to do with how to win the battles which will turn the tide of the war through proper presentation of your message.

    The two constituencies needing to hear and respond to the message are The People and the politician.

    In business there are two principles which may apply here.

    Duplication and Best Practices.

    Best Practices would be served in the case of all the excellent messaging here on the blog comment section by finding people who have been in the wars and have learned some lessons in how to message.

    Steve has done this in some ways but has limited resources of time and money, as we all do.

    Find a group you think fits with the issue du jour and ask them what their best practices may be.

    Mark didn’t like my last suggestions of various statewide and local groups with experienced excellent people but there are more.

    Find them.

    They live to help.

    Duplication is a positive and negative.

    Negative if you duplicate someone else’s message without furthering it.

    Don’t do this.

    Duplicate success by finding people and groups who may be able to be a resource and megaphone for your desired end goal.

    We have brilliant people in McHenry County and this state who may add to the few sharp commenters here and make one or all of these political messes political losses for those not representing The People.

    Keep going.

    I cannot encourage you enough to grow from nascent intellectual discussion to full blown activist.

  14. The class size numbers the school district sends to the state in the AFR are not real class sizes but the numbers that include administrators.

    To get real class sizes you have to FOIA the numbers from the school district, but you have to word the FOIA carefully to explain what you are looking for.

    The school district has real class sizes numbers for each classroom, meaning the class sizes that do not include administrators.

    Even real class size can get murky because of IEP’s (federal mandated special needs laws) sometimes there is an aide in the classroom, so that is a cost, so i guess you could ask for the full-time IEP aides to be counted in a separate column, not sure how that is tracked by the district.

    The aides that float around or that the students go to can be counted in even a 3rd column, such as reading instructor, psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, etc.

  15. By a full-time IEP aide, even that gets murky, I mean an aide that is the classroom full time with the teacher.

    As opposed to an aide that works full time in the district but is not assigned to a classroom.

    One could argue that point back and forth.

    Public schools are more complex than most people realize.

    On one hand you would think the subject matter hasn’t changed all that much since you were a kid, however, Federal and State mandates have changed tremendously.

    And there are a lot more English as a Second Language (ESL) kids.

    And there are a lot more extra-curricular clubs.

    And the list goes on and on.

    You can get an idea by reading school board minutes, looking at videotapes of school board meetings online (which is another reason school board meetings should be videotaped), and attending school board meetings.

    Another thing incidentally is that for whatever reason, and there are various reasons, the kids that make trouble are not disciplined as thoroughly as when you were a kid, for some reason a lot of teachers let poor behavior slide, disrupting the classroom for kids who want to learn, one reason is administrators sometimes throw it back at the teacher saying they should be able to control their classroom.

    Another reason is kids = money for school districts.

    School districts receive so much money per student from the Federal and State government.

    So if a kid gets expelled, the school district may lose some State General State Aid for example, although there are various rules and exceptions about how that works, as there are alternative schools in some districts, and alternative schools in some counties.

    Again that’s a generality, all kinds of exceptions.

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