Summary of Arguments Against Huge Woodstock Tax Increment Financing District Approval

From Susan Handelsman:

2018 Woodstock TIF 2 Joint Review Board School Objections

Woodstock TIF 2 Joint Review Board voted 5-2 to ‘pass’ TIF 2 (NOT “Recommend’ it).

Tax districts would be denied any increases in tax revenue generated in this 562 acre swath of Woodstock for 23 years. It represents 5% of Woodstock’s current assessed valuation.

Two swing YES votes came from

  • the Woodstock-chosen “Citizen Representative” who refused to listen to anti-TIF evidence from citizens, and
  • County Board representative after the County Board had stated that they remain neutral in local matters of TIF.

Two No votes came from

  • Woodstock D200 and
  • McHenry County College.

A key section of the TIF Plan: is “Financial Impact of Redevelopment”.

Here is what the TIF Plan stated as to Woodstock District 200:

“Impact on School District #200 Woodstock Community School District #200 provides elementary, middle and high school services for residents of Woodstock and adjacent communities. The replacement of underutilized property with new development and redevelopment may cause a minimal increase in demand for the services and programs provided by the school district. No specific program is set forth in this Redevelopment Plan, however the Act defines a clear formula for repayment of fees to the district for students directly generated by TIF supported projects.”

The statement that “the Act defines a clear formula for repayment of fees to the district for students directly generated by TIF supported projects” is a disgraceful insult to taxpayer intelligence.

The TIF Act formula STRICTLY LIMITS the amount TIF may pay to schools!

The limited amount TIF would be allowed to pay is a tiny fraction of the actual costs of schooling the free-rider TIF enrollment.

After Mayor and Economic Manger of Woodstock presented to the D200 school board vague plans about several residential developments in TIF, and when pressed, stated that perhaps around 180 new units would be created, Woodstock school board members decided to object formally to TIF 2 at the Joint Review Board. (Weeks later, at 2 informational TIF 2 public meetings, Woodstock Economic Development employees indicated that 500 to 1000 new residential units were expected to be created within TIF 2.)

McHenry County College Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution of formal objection to Woodstock TIF 2 which contains the following language:

“WHEREAS, pursuant to Illinois law, the creation of a TIF district freezes the Equalized Assessed Valuation (“EAV”) of the TIF district for a 23-year period, and property tax revenue that results from increased EAV during the 23-year period is diverted to the City; and

WHEREAS, the diversion of tax dollars to the City that would otherwise come to the
College and District 200 has real consequences on these institutions and on the students who attend them, and will only exacerbate the financial strain under which District 200 is currently operating; and

WHEREAS, the City previously created and implemented a TIF district, and the resulting benefits to the community were negligible; and

WHEREAS, the College finds that TIF districts are generally a hidden tax hike in that they make available tax giveaways to business by taking money from schools, colleges and other taxing districts in a way that is not transparent; and as a result, just to balance the books to make up for the money lost, other taxing districts must raise tax rates or eliminate services, thereby hurting those not receiving subsidies from the City; and…”

Remember, when the City Council votes YES to TIF 2, they are disregarding these objections by Woodstock D200 and McHenry County College.

The school’s objections are evidence based, in that:

  1. 500 or more new housing units created will have an effect greater than ‘minimal increase in demand for services…’
    Tax burdens will increase on current Woodstock residents, residents with children, in order to pay for the costs of mandatory education provision to new TIF residents, for 35 years. Higher property taxes take household money from college savings fund, for one thing.
    (TIFs are strictly limited by law in how much they are allowed to reimburse schools for costs of new TIF enrollment. This is to protect TIF bondholders. Any reimbursement is expected to be well below 10% of taxpayer burden per pupil).
  2. TIF new residents will be able to evade tax liability for $150,000,000 of D200 debt coming due shortly.
    This debt was incurred, ironically, to build buildings for new residents’ schoolchildren…yet because of TIF 2, the new residents will not be allowed to pay for any of it. TIF tax revenues are only to be spent on TIF properties.
  3. TIF new construction will be able to evade tax liability for any public employee underfunded pensions or OPEBs (Other Post Employment Benefits) which are the sole responsibility of the local property-taxable EAV over the next 35 years.

When Mayor and City Council members say that their Yes TIF 2 decision is ‘supported’ by the Joint Review Board, consider whether that assertion is what an ordinary citizen would consider truthful or truth half-full. Ask for specifics.

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