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updated: 2/15/2012 6:23 PM

Libertyville gives library, schools rebate

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  • A new air conditioning unit is delivered last year to Butterfield School in Libertyville. The district is using rebated tax funds for building improvements.

      A new air conditioning unit is delivered last year to Butterfield School in Libertyville. The district is using rebated tax funds for building improvements.
    Courtesy of Libertyville Elementary District 70

 
 

A $67,561 tax windfall doesn't put the Cook Memorial Public Library District in the category of a lottery winner, but the money is being accepted with the feeling of good fortune.

"We're just happy to get it when we get it and strive to spend those dollars as wisely as possible," said Library Director Stephen Kershner.

The cash, an annual rebate from Libertyville's special taxing district, will be added to the library's $1 million materials budget used to buy books, databases and other media.

"It's a little piece, but every dollar helps," Kershner said.

That a government body is giving back any taxes is worth nothing these days. But Libertyville's largesse was negotiated three years ago with all the taxing bodies within the tax increment financing district, which covers the downtown area.

In a TIF district, property values are frozen and taxing bodies within it continue to receive the same amount of property taxes even though values increase because of new streets or sidewalks, for example.

Taxes are levied on the increased value, however. That amount, known as the increment, is put in a special fund for improvements in the area.

TIF districts are governed by state law and end after 23 years. But with more work to do, the village sought an extension to 2021. To do that, it needed the approval of all the taxing bodies involved and the state legislature.

Village leaders determined that only 30 percent of the increment would be needed to complete parking improvements envisioned in the original plan.

Those include a recently completed surface parking and streetscape upgrade on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue to complement a parking deck that opened in September 2009. A new deck and/or other parking improvements on the east side of Milwaukee are being pursued.

The carrot for the village was rebating 70 percent of the increment to the taxing bodies. Last year, more than $1.7 million was split.

At the top of the tax increment rebate heap is Libertyville Elementary District 70, which is expected to receive more than $690,000 this year as its share of more than $1.8 million in property taxes the village is rebating to nearly a dozen taxing bodies.

Last year, District 70 used its cut to put new roofs on Copeland Manor and Adler Park schools, install window air conditioners at Rockland School and replace five rooftop cooling units at Butterfield School.

This year, planned work includes installation of automated heating and ventilation controls at each of the five schools. That will allow temperatures to be adjusted remotely for savings on heating costs.

"It gives us funds to make improvements to facilities we probably wouldn't have been able to do without going to referendum," said Kurt Valentin, assistant superintendent of finance and operations.

District 70 issued a bond for nearly $4.3 million to fund building improvements and uses about 80 percent of the TIF district rebate to repay that debt. The rest is used for general building improvements.

As it did last year, Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 received the second-highest amount. Most of the nearly $660,000 will be used for building improvements.

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