Residents, schools air concerns about Wheeling TIF plans
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School district representatives and Wheeling residents who may be impacted by the village's plans to re-establish a pair of Tax Increment Finance districts aired their concerns Tuesday at a public hearing.
About 40 people in all, many of them residents of the Wolf Run Estates subdivision, attended an informational meeting led by village staff and consultants. The meeting focused on the village's Southeast TIF, which encompasses the area around Chicago Executive Airport, though some who attended Tuesday also object to the village's plans for its Town Center TIF, as well.
In both instances, the village hopes to re-establish the TIF so that they will extend to 2037. Proponents say the TIFs will act as a development engine for the two economically struggling portions of the village, but objectors say the move will deprive school districts and other local governments out of millions of dollars in revenue.
Board members from Wheeling Township Elementary District 21, Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Indian Trails Library District and the Wheeling Park District read statements Tuesday indicating they will oppose the plans unless the village agrees to a revenue-sharing arrangement, as was the case with another TIF.
TIFs work by freezing property tax disbursements to local governments from properties within the district for 23 years. Additional tax revenue generated through development is placed in a separate fund for reinvestment only within the district, meaning local bodies lose out on that new revenue for more than two decades.
Although the Southeast TIF would focus on boosting development in industrial areas surrounding the airport, it also would include 706 homes, 22 of them single-family residences.
Maryann Liguori, a resident of the Wolf Run Estates subdivision included in the TIF, said her neighborhood is not blighted and therefore should not qualify for inclusion in the district. As was the case when the TIF first was established in 2008, Wolf Run residents fear that by including their homes in the district, Wheeling could use the TIF to condemn their properties.
John Melaniphy, the Wheeling's director of economic development, said the village has no plans to condemn the homes, and any private developer would have to negotiate with homeowners. The village could never afford to extend water and sewer services to the neighborhood unless it were part of a TIF, Village Manager Jon Sfondilis added.
However, Wheeling has said it would use the TIF to enforce code restrictions on parking and storage in industrial areas, a plan that has drawn some criticism from business owners.
Herb Behrenbruch of Antioch said Tuesday he cannot sell his property on Industrial Lane because a potential buyer does not know how long he will be allowed to operate there. The area may not be visually attractive, Behrenbruch said, but some of its value comes from business owners' ability to park and store equipment like vehicles and dumpsters.
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