Special financing district retired after successful run in Round Lake Beach
A special financing district in Round Lake Beach has been terminated, but its impact on a once-deteriorating neighborhood is expected to carry on.
Village officials earlier this week agreed to dissolve Redevelopment Project Area No. 3 — also known as a tax increment financing district — after 12 years and a unique partnership with residents to improve their situation.
TIF districts generally are associated with larger projects and can be designated for as long as 23 years and even extended. But the Meadow Green subdivision TIF was a concentrated effort that has successfully run its course.
Built in the 1980s, the 42-building, 208-unit complex was falling apart, according to the village. Roads and streetlights, maintained by a homeowners association, also needed work, and property values dropped.
By the late 1990s, vacancies and crime were up and the ingredients were in place for the neighborhood on Cedar Lake Road north of Rollins Road to become a trouble spot. A plan of action was formulated after a resident approached the village to see what could be done.
The homeowners association agreed to raise its fees $22 per month for three years and took out a loan of about $1 million to fund major work.
In return, the village assumed responsibility for streetlights and alleys the association had been paying to maintain and also created the TIF district to improve those and other elements.
"They took the money they were saving and invested it in the overhaul of all the buildings," said Village Administrator David Kilbane. Work included new windows, roofs and balconies over a three-year period.
"The goal was to get homeowners to reinvest and take control of their neighborhood," he said.
In a TIF district, property values for taxing purposes are frozen, meaning other taxing districts — such as schools and libraries — had to buy in.
Once the buildings were renovated and the value increased, taxes on the higher value were assessed and funneled into the TIF district fund.
"It was unusual, especially a small little (geographic) section like that. But it was the best way to raise money," Mayor Rich Hill said. "Without the help and assistance of the homeowners association and the residents who lived there, it would not have been possible."
Property values rose and the neighborhood became more attractive. The recent housing slump has had an impact, but the TIF district during its life generated about $740,000 for public improvements to supplement an estimated $3 million in homeowner investment.
The village used TIF district money to install new streetlights, resurface and repair streets, landscape the public rights of way, change the water meters to radio-read meters, erect fencing at the entry to the subdivision, and install surveillance cameras in the public right of way.
A Community Action Team working with police was established and crime has dropped, village officials say.
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