District 21 opposes Wheeling's TIF plans, saying taxpayers will lose
TIFs to help Wheeling development would hurt schools, taxpayers, it says
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Re-establishing two tax increment financing districts in Wheeling will hurt other taxing bodies, especially school districts, and increase tax bills for property taxpayers, officials in Wheeling Elementary School District 21 say.
Bill Harrison, president of the District 21 board, said he will criticize Wheeling's current plans at a public hearing on Southeast II TIF at 7 p.m. today at Wheeling village hall. Re-establishing the TIFs would extend them through 2037.
Harrison said he is not opposed to the TIF districts but objects to the way Wheeling plans to re-establish two in the village.
"I am a real estate attorney," Harrison said. "I appreciate TIFs when they are done the right way, and no one wants to stop this TIF or stop the Town Center development."
The Southeast II TIF surrounds the Chicago Executive Airport. The second TIF is called Town Center and is around the village-owned property that previously included the Wickes store on Dundee Road.
Bill Dussling, president of Northwest Suburban High School District 214 board of education, confirmed he also will speak at Tuesday's hearing. He said the two school districts are probably on the same page but would not reveal his planned statement.
Reinstating the Town Center TIF, which was first created in 2003, will cost District 21 an estimated $12 million between 2026, when the old TIF would have expired, and 2037, said Daniel Schuler, District 21's assistant superintendent for planning. He did not produce estimates for Southeast II TIF.
"Our opinion is this is something that wasn't the intent of the Illinois General Assembly (when they created TIF district legislation)," Schuler said.
A TIF district is aimed at encouraging economic development by freezing the amount of property taxes allocated to local governments at the level they were when the district was established. Any additional property tax revenues created by increasing values in later years can then be reinvested within the district.
Village President Dean Argiris said he is disappointed with District 21's stance.
"I'm disappointed with their attitude and lack of leadership," he said. "We are working with other taxing bodies and are trying to improve the community. There's always been an issue between District 21 and our guys. We have been more than fair, and they never acknowledge the excess monies we have given to them."
Under the law a TIF can run for 23 years, then be extended for 12 years by the legislature, which usually requires approval of the other affected taxing bodies, especially school districts, Schuler said.
But Wheeling instead terminated the two TIFs and will open new ones that could last another 23 years. The village wants to re-establish the TIFs because the assessed value of property in them today is lower than when the districts were established. That means no revenues for redevelopment are being produced.
Schuler and Harrison said District 21 and District 214 worked with the village in 2005 to get the legislature to extend the Crossroads TIF where the new Fresh Farms grocery store and shopping center was eventually constructed. The village agreed to share funds with the school districts, and District 21 gets 72 percent of what it would have if the TIF had expired.
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