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updated: 7/12/2013 8:22 AM

Suburbs seeing less revenue from taxing districts

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  • The Prairie Stone office park in Hoffman Estates is in a tax increment financing district designed to help keep Sears Holdings Corp.'s headquarters in Illinois and spur the development of the land around the retailer's headquarters.

       The Prairie Stone office park in Hoffman Estates is in a tax increment financing district designed to help keep Sears Holdings Corp.'s headquarters in Illinois and spur the development of the land around the retailer's headquarters.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Suburban Cook County towns are seeing less revenues from special taxing districts, according to a report released Thursday by Cook County Clerk David Orr's office.

Revenue from tax increment financing, or TIF, districts decreased roughly 3 percent in the suburbs -- down from $275 million in 2011 to $266 million in 2012. Overall $723 million was collected in the 435 active TIF districts in the county, including the city of Chicago, per the 2012 TIF revenue report.

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Meanwhile, the number of TIF districts in suburban Cook County has steadily grown in recent years -- there are now 281 districts in 93 municipalities.

In a TIF, increases in property tax revenues from growth are withheld from area taxing bodies, such as parks and schools, to pay for development costs and improvements within the TIF.

Six suburban towns collected more than $10 million in total TIF revenue in 2012. In the Northwest suburbs, the highest was Rosemont at $32.2 million, while Hoffman Estates collected $26 million, and Palatine collected $10.1 million, according to the report.

While some TIF districts have been very successful in spurring development, others have been failures when money was spent on infrastructure in anticipation of development and ancillary tax revenue that didn't materialize, leaving taxpayers on the hook for unmet costs.

"The need for greater transparency and accountability is just as vital in the suburbs as it is in the city," Orr said in a news release.

Among the largest suburban taxing districts are the Sears TIF in Hoffman Estates, which generates $25.2 million, and two in Rosemont, collecting a total of $28.8 million.

Of the 281 suburban TIF districts, 127 districts saw revenue declines, while 76 districts did not collect any revenue in 2012, per the report.

Six new TIF districts were created, including Hoffman Estates' Barrington Square Town Center, which has struggled to attract new businesses since a Menards left in 2008, and one in Palatine aimed at spurring redevelopment in the area of Rand and Lake-Cook roads.

TIF data will be available on property tax bills starting with the 2013 second installment bill, expected to be mailed in summer 2014. The clerk's office has released a new video, "Understanding TIFs," available on the website cookcountyclerk.com. The site also offers resources such as previous TIF reports, the TIF property search tool, and TIF maps.

"As a longtime advocate for making TIF information more transparent, I am pleased to offer more tools for understanding TIFs," Orr said in a news release. "Property tax bills will display how much of an individual tax bill is going into a TIF fund. And our new video is a primer that not only explains TIFs, but raises questions about how TIFs are managed and used."

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