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updated: 10/4/2011 4:53 AM

District 129 asks North Aurora for TIF district favor

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North Aurora officials are willing to consider a request made by West Aurora District 129 for money to be held back out of a proposed tax-incentive financing district.

They are not, however, ready to adopt an intergovernmental agreement about the matter. The village board's unofficial consensus Monday night, reached as it met as a committee of the whole, was that it was willing to offer a "memo of understanding" to the district at the time a project is proposed.

"I don't know if we entered into this if it would completely destroy the purpose of the TIF," said Scott Buening, the village's community development director. But it could make development less attractive if there is less money available.

North Aurora is considering offering tax-incentive financing to spur redevelopment on the east side of Lincolnway (Route 31), generally from State Street north to Elm Street and east to the Fox River. It would affect 43 properties.

In a TIF, property taxes for all taxing bodies are frozen at the current level when the TIF is adopted, for up to 23 years. Any increase in property taxes collected is instead set aside to be spent on the development, such as for roads, sewers or other infrastructure work. District 129 has asked that 20 percent of that money be set aside for the school district and other taxing bodies.

The North Aurora board will vote on establishing the TIF district Oct. 17.

Nobody has suggested developing anything in the proposed 25-acre district, which now contains 16 single-family houses and 54 apartments. The TIF plan calls instead for multifamily housing, some mixed-use zoning and a commercial area. The village estimates such a plan could increase the population of the area, including 43 more children.

"Forty-three new students means at least two new classrooms, along with the necessary teachers, equipment and support staff," wrote school board President Neal Ormond in a Sept. 6 letter to village President Dale Berman.

Ormond said the elementary school and middle school that serve the area are overcrowded, with Fearn Elementary using two mobile classrooms this year.

Trustee Vincent Mancini said he didn't see the request jeopardizing the viability of the TIF but questioned the district's contention that adding 43 students would mean having to add two classrooms to a school. The children would not all be at the same grade, and so would be distributed among several schools, he said. Besides, the district would receive land or cash from any developer to offset costs, per village law, he said.

"And (the TIF) doesn't go on forever," Berman pointed out. "I just wish we had a project ..."

" ... that we could worry about it," finished Trustee Ryan Lambert.