Susan Handlesman Argues Against Extending Woodstock TIF

Here are comments sent to Woodstock School Board members in which Susan Handelsman urges the District 200 School Board to oppose the twelve year extension of the Downtown Tax Increment Financing District:

Woodstock CUSD 200 Board of Education Members:

Woodstock is seeking a 12 year extension on a failed 20 year old TIF.

The majority of the $700,000 annual TIF revenue is from properties which existed prior to the TIF formation and have simply increased with inflation as most American real estate has increased over the past two decades.

Woodstock Downtown TIF District

Woodstock Downtown TIF District

Woodstock property tax rates are 4.6% of total home fair market value.

That means that the children you profess to protect are living in households in which median income earners living in median value homes must pay over 12% of their household income to property taxes.

This is in comparison to the national average 1.4% property tax rate which takes less than 4% of median household income.

This Board of Education’ two year silence in answer to the questions of



“What are you doing about this?”

has been deafening.

Here is your chance to prove that your motivations are to protect children rather than align with special interests:

Oppose this 12 year TIF extension for Woodstock TIF.

Letting the TIF expire will creat a $700,000 per year (and rising with 12 years of inflation) property tax break for the children for whom you assert concern.

Woodstock has zero need for a TIF district to raise money.

At 6-figure taxpayer expense, Woodstock government obtained a 3 year early Home Rule designation.

Woodstock Mayor and Council can borrow and spend unlimited millions at the stroke of Mayor Sager’s Bic.

The only difference between raising the same funds to give to cronies through a TIF is that TIF allows the public tax money diversion to occur in the dead of afternoon, without much public scrutiny or oversight.

Oppose the Woodstock TIF 12 year extension, or tell us what is the value you say it will provide to children.


Susan Handlesman Argues Against Extending Woodstock TIF — 31 Comments

  1. What does Home Rule have to do with Tax Increment Financing Districts?

  2. With unlimited taxing and borrowing ability, municipalities have no reason to advocate tif as alternative fund raising means.

    In my opinion the only difference is the tif allows lack of transparency and bypasses requirement of proof of public benefit.

  3. Susan mentioned in the article she believes there would be more public scrutiny and oversight if the TIF was closed and Woodstock attempted to obtain the lost revenue using their home rule powers to borrow money.

  4. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm …..

    Does that mean Mayor Sager can’t open his new ‘dance bar’????

    Oh dear, please don’t tell him ’till after Christmas.

  5. With the TIF Increment EAV at $4.864 million, that would generate roughly another $332K of incremental, annualized revenue for D-200.

    The district could use that to lower their levy or pour that money into the debt service fund to setup a bond sinking fund to help ameliorate the pending debt service spike that will occur in the next few years.

    I did look at the City’s CAFR for the TIF Fund and noticed that they have spent $3.1 million in CapEx over the last 4 years out of that fund.

    They have completely drained that fund as of the end of the last fiscal year.

    If the TIF were to terminate, is the city required to distribute any remaining funds back to other taxing bodies?

  6. I seem to recall the TIF has an outstanding bond debt.

    As I recall, by law that debt must be issued with terms such that it will be paid down by expiry date?

    As for any additional credit balance remaining, I doubt we will ever face that dilemma!

  7. This is less than 1% of revenue.

    How about we support small business?

    Susan is on a crusade, this is a detour.

  8. Again, if you want cash giveaways of property tax dollars, you only have to ask the mayor.

    Tif is not needed for that.

    But if you really want to help small business, let homeowners keep part of the 12% of household income spent on property tax, and maybe they will have some discretionary income left to spend on small local businesses.

  9. .75 cents per person per day is a small price to pay for a bustling tourist destination that drives appeal to citizens moving to Woodstock.

    Plus, by the time you are done with schools, people won’t want to live here for their kids to get a good education.

    You are on a detour.

    Get back on track.

    How about you advocate for a unified school district between Marengo, Woodstock, Richmond, Burton, and Union?

    THAT would be real tax dollar savings rather than less than people pay to go to work every day on 90.

  10. Tif does not create a bustling tourist destination.

    Tif creates a poverty stricken community whose residents cannot afford to shop at the local businesses who have managed to survive the 4.6% property tax rate created by the tif and similar crony capitalist spending policies.

    And of course the schools.

    Woodstock d200 outspends neighboring unit district by 33% per pupil per year.

    Test scores and college readiness trail the more frugal neighboring unit school district.

    So Woodstock spends more, in return for less value to residents and businesses.

  11. School consolidation would result in hiking the pay scale of all the lower paid districts to the highest paid district, which would hike pay.

    Plus the larger teacher union would have more negotiating power largely through the fact a strike would impact more parents.

    Rough figures:

    Riley CCSD 18 – 290 students

    Marengo – Union E Cons D 165 – 1,020 students

    Marengo CHSD 154 – 820 students

    Richmond – Burton CHSD 157 – 770 students

    Nippersink SD 2 (Richmond, Spring Grove) – 1,380 students

    Woodstock CUSDS 200 – 6,150 students

    Total – 10,430 students


    Is school consolidation in the Jack Franks plan to save property taxpayers 10% on their property tax bills?

    Keeping in mind that teacher unions are the biggest union contributors to Jack Franks PACs.

    Where is the Jack Franks Cut 10 plan that he said he would release on his first day in office?

    Jack Franks’ first day in office was December 5, 2016.

    December 5, 2016 – Day 1

    December 6, 2016 – Day 2

    December 7, 2016 – Day 3

    December 8, 2016 – Day 4

    December 9, 2016 – Day 5

    December 10, 2016 – Day 6

    December 11, 2016 – Day 7

    December 12, 2016 – Day 8

    December 13, 2016 Day 9

    December 14, 2016 – Day 10

    December 15, 2016 – Day 11

    Jack Franks plan is 11 days late, so far.

  12. If Woodstock government decides that to take $700,000 per year from taxpayers in a 4.6% property tax rate district is good for the community at large, it can do so unapologetically in the light of day.

    They don’t need a sneaky tax diversion mechanism like TIF .

  13. Jack Franks must still wield influence in Springfield.

    If he wants to cut property taxes for Woodstock D200 residents, he can publicly oppose Springfield legislators who would grant this tif extension, which is a specific betrayal of struggling taxpayers.

  14. Lol $280 dollars less a year leaves people POVERTY STRICKEN?!

    Ok Susan.

    Hyperbole much?

    God you make this town sound like it’s Washington DC.

    Run for office instead of armchair quarterbacking.

    It’s a lot harder than it looks.

    Ask Paul Serwatka.

  15. Here’s an idea to save money on schools.

    Compare Wisconsin state and local costs and policy for schools to Illinois.

    Randall Joint No. 1 School District, Twin Lakes No. 4 School District, Wilmot Union High School District, Genoa City Joint No. 2 School District, and Lake Geneva – Genoa City Union High School District are just over the border from Richmond – Burton CHSD 157 & Nippersink School District 2.


    Also, Riley CCSD 18 has little or no debt and Woodstock District 200 has lots of debt.

    Riley residents would not want to pay Woodstock debt.

    So some arrangement would have to be made to accommodate the existing debt issue.

  16. A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck and $280 is a lot for them.

  17. Mark,

    You got everything right except for the fact that centralizing school districts means automatically hiking he lay if everyone.

    That’s not how it works, chief.

  18. Didn’t say everyone.

    Said the highest pay district.

    Name one consolidation where that didn’t happen.

  19. Please provide a cost-benefit analysis that will show the savings.

  20. Woodstock has been made poverty stricken by a decade of profligate spending by the unit school district, and by municipal spending policies which have favored some and excluded others.

  21. $280 would pay for quite a few dinners out at local restaurants, or gifts purchased at local gift shops.

    But it is really a question about who should control the $280 (and a lot of other $280 packets seized from Woodstock families by Woodstock politicians).

    In my opinion, people in control of their own money will do more good for their communities than politicians who demand control over people’s money ‘ for the people’s own good’.

  22. The cost benefit analysis would be a start.

    A feasibility study is performed if the school districts and boards are seriously interested in a reorganization.


    Illinois State Board of Education

    School Business Services

    School District Reorganization

    – scroll down to “Feasibility Studies” to see examples of districts that performed past feasibility studies.

    That can be cross referenced to the list of districts which have reorganized.

  23. Every community has to vote in favor of any consolidation referendum.

    In order to accomplish that, there typically has to be a benefit to the voters (i.e. tax savings).

    I’ve posted here before about the wildy disparate tax rates seen in trying to consolidate D-3/26/46/47.

    You have the same problem with D-200 and D-2/18/154/157/165.

    If you lived in Marengo, the operating tax rate is D-165= 3.3356 plus D-154= 2.556 or $5.8916 versus D-200’s rate of $6.82077, you wouldn’t vote to approve going to a rate 15.8% higher than you’re paying today.

    Conversely, Woodstock voters might approve a referendum where their new rate drops to match Marengo’s.

    However, the new, lower rate reduces Woodstock’s levy contribution to the new district’s revenue by $6.7 million. Given the small size of Riley/Marengo-Union/etc.

    I don’t think there are a lot of operational savings opportunities to be found there to offset the revenue loss.

    As to debt, typically, existing debt service responsibility stays with the original community that incurred the liability.

    However, that can be negotiable in how the referendum is constructed.

    However, some might be seriously concerned with merging with D-200 given the substantial debt burden it carries and the future decisions that have to be made regarding the debt service spike that will occur in the next few years.

    Given the numbers, I’m not sure if there is any incentive for a voter in Marengo to vote to merge with D-200.

  24. The article at the link below contains: “Let’s face it: Chicago’s peasants are just too sleepy to revolt. ”

    Remove the word Chicago and replace it with the name of your town or county.

    Another line: “the TIF program gives Mayor Emanuel control of another $500 million a year in property taxes”

    TIFs are more about CONTROL and crony capitalism than they are about anything else.

  25. 🍎≠ 🍊

    $700k ≠ $500MM

    Woodstock ≠ Chicago

    How about some perspective people?

  26. The relative effect of spending beyond the means of the community is more harmful in Woodstock that Chicago.
    This is evidenced by Chicago property tax rate of +/-2.3% vs. Woodstock property tax rate of 4.6%.

    Harm caused to taxpayers by stealthy tax appropriation maneuvers like TIF have harmed Woodstock homeowners more than Chicago homeowners, as relative property value comparisons over the past 9 years indicates.

  27. Moderate arguing just to argue, when the numbers and popular opinion are against him.

    I don’t get the impression that Susan cares about partisan squawking like Moderate does–she’s very analytical.

    That’s why Moderate’s arguing comes across as bad.

    He/she has a name like Moderate, but if someone on this blog proposes something with common sense, if it has any kind low-tax perspective he/she wants to argue.

    If you want to crusade for TIFs, be my guest.

    Don’t expect to get any traction though.

  28. Susan never earned a dime in her life.

    She inherited all of it, and now acts like she’s a financial wizard.

    Earn your keep for a while, then let’s talk.

  29. Some thoughts to ponder:

    How much of Huntley school district is in the “Tiff zone” doesnt it just depend on where what is built?

    Susan and I do not agree on much of anything, actually NOTHING.

    BUT there is no need to be rude or sarcastic.

    If you can not get your point across without snarky comments how much of a point do you really have?

    Ill address that last sentence to all involved.

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