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updated: 10/7/2013 5:35 PM

Schools aren't fans of new Schaumburg TIF district

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  • Schaumburg plans to use a tax-increment financing district to spur economic growth around its convention center, but other taxing bodies dislike the shift in the tax burden among property owners that TIF districts can cause.

    Schaumburg plans to use a tax-increment financing district to spur economic growth around its convention center, but other taxing bodies dislike the shift in the tax burden among property owners that TIF districts can cause.
    Daily Herald file photo


Schaumburg is once again looking to tax increment financing to spur redevelopment and economic growth -- this time along Algonquin Road near the convention center.

And once again, other taxing bodies are hoping the life span of the TIF district -- with its gradual shift of the tax burden to those outside it -- will be as much below the 23-year maximum as possible.

It didn't work out that way with the Olde Schaumburg Centre TIF district that helped build Town Square at Schaumburg and Roselle roads.

That TIF district ran for the full 23 years before expiring last winter. Only now is the long-awaited Pleasant Square residential development taking shape, using the TIF funding reserved for its eligible expenses.

The proposed TIF district seeks to boost Schaumburg's economy by creating a new entertainment district, funding tollway interchanges at Meacham and Roselle roads and providing incentives for new corporate headquarters for Sunstar Americas and Zurich Insurance, among other projects.

TIF districts are funding tools that attract such projects, since the community reinvests a share of the property taxes generated by the development back into it.

But as Dave Torres, associated superintendent for business in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 says, they are also just one more way the local tax burden is shifted more onto homeowners.

"The call that we get is, 'Why did my taxes go up?'" Torres said.

He says businesses are far more savvy than residents when it comes to appealing property assessments. When taxing bodies set a levy -- the amount of money they want to get from property taxes -- it is with the idea it will be proportionately spread among all taxpayers. But factors like TIFs cause residents to pay a disproportionate share, Torres said.

District 211's municipalities now have 11 active TIFs, he said.

Tax cap laws, in place since the early '90s, ensure no individual taxpayer can see more than a 5 percent increase per year on his bill. But shifts to the tax burden, which municipalities sign off on, make it appear to the homeowner that taxing bodies, like school districts, are asking them for more, Torres said.

"I understand the goal to invest in the local community with development," he said. "But there have been changes in the economy. Where are the changes to tax cap laws?"

Torres, however, concedes that District 211 benefits from being in an area that has diverse land uses. Losing some part of commercial property taxes in appeal is better than having been in a strictly bedroom community all along, he said.

Municipalities argue that without TIF incentives, a lot of development wouldn't happen at all.

Ric King is skeptical. The Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 assistant superintendent of business services believes Schaumburg is well known as a center of business and commerce, and TIFs are not as critical to draw developers.

Like the other affected taxing bodies, District 54 will be represented on the TIF district's joint review board which will meet for the first time Oct. 25.

These taxing bodies have no power to stop a TIF district from being created.

Still, King says they allow him to get annual updates and the forum to urge Schaumburg to close the TIF district as soon as possible.

"Our biggest concern is for our residents, who have to pick up the extra burden," King said.

Schaumburg Economic Development Manager Matt Frank said the joint review board enlists the insights of the other taxing bodies and ensures the transparency of the TIF process.

Both District 54 and 211 are concerned the new TIF district will inspire residential development along Algonquin Road that could bring them more families without the extra tax revenue to pay for them.

But Frank said only apartments and condos are envisioned -- traditionally not sources of significant numbers of children.

Other taxing bodies said a TIF district affects all of them differently, conceding school districts are the most affected due to the large percentage of their funding that comes from property taxes.

Steve Burgess, the Schaumburg Park District director of finance and administrative services, said park districts' costs are offset by user fees and thus less affected by TIF districts.

Schaumburg Township District Library Board Member Robert Frankel said his library was in the rare position of being a direct beneficiary of Schaumburg's last TIF district by finding a new home in the redeveloped Town Square.

Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod, whose village has two TIF districts currently, said they can be very effective economic development tools.

He adds they need to be judged by the effect they have on new growth throughout their 23 years, not just the end result when they expire.

Even though townships don't benefit directly from TIFs, Schaumburg Township Administrator Larry Weniger agreed with that sentiment.

"I think anything you do to improve the overall village entices people to live in it," Weniger said.

A public hearing for Schaumburg's proposed TIF district is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at village hall, 101 Schaumburg Court.

The village board is expected to vote on the creation of the TIF district sometime in January.

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