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updated: 9/20/2011 7:58 PM

District 116 backs losing tax cash to Round Lake Beach

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  • Douglas Raul Williams

    Douglas Raul Williams


Round Lake Area Unit District 116 would receive limited free use of a community and cultural center, as well as help in creating a school's master facility plan, through a deal struck with a village within its boundaries.

District 116's agreement with Round Lake Beach came because the village plans a special taxing zone expected to reduce the school system's revenue by millions of dollars. The district approved the deal last week, with just one board member objecting.

Round Lake Beach wants to create what's called a tax increment financing district for a multimillion-dollar makeover of one of the village's original neighborhoods near Cedar Lake and Rollins roads.

Property tax payments to local governments such as District 116 are frozen when a TIF is enacted. If land value rises, the corresponding increase in property taxes would be set aside in a special fund to pay for improvements within the district.

Streets would be rebuilt, water mains replaced and sewers upgraded as part of the special financing district that would cover about 900 properties on the village's southwest side.

Round Lake Beach officials say the proposed special taxing zone would last 17 years. District 116 officials have estimated property tax revenue would shrink by $27 million if the TIF runs for a maximum 24 to 26 years.

By not fighting the proposed TIF, District 116 would get to use the Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center for free up to 15 times per academic year if there are no scheduling conflicts. The district would develop a calendar of dates annually.

District 116 also would receive assistance from the village to create a master plan for Round Lake Beach Elementary School. The plan would cover improvements for traffic, pedestrian and student safety around the North Ardmore Drive building.

"This proposal supports the long-range facility plan of the district," Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Bill Johnston wrote in a memo.

At last week's District 116 meeting, board members voted 6-1 on the TIF agreement that Round Lake Beach had wanted before its village council takes up the proposal. District 116 board member Douglas Raul Williams was the lone dissenter.

Round Lake Beach plans to host a public hearing on the proposed TIF district Oct. 10. The village council will get the final say on whether the district is created.

Williams said it would be better for all District 116 residents if Round Lake Beach levied additional taxes on just the affected property owners to pay for the infrastructure improvements near Cedar Lake and Rollins.

District 116's boundaries include Round Lake, Round Lake Park, Hainesville, Round Lake Beach and Round Lake Heights.

"If we need money, we'd have to hold a referendum in five towns," Williams said.

Some District 116 officials have cited a need to maintain a cordial relationship with the Round Lake Beach government as a reason to not balk at the village's special taxing zone.

District 116 was near collapse because of poor finances when a special state finance authority took over in 2002. Constance Collins was hired as superintendent before the 2010-11 school year as part of a return to local control after finances were deemed stable.