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updated: 3/5/2014 7:06 PM

Winfield trustee in hot water over Roosevelt Road email

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  • Tim Allen

      Tim Allen

  • Erik Spande

      Erik Spande

 
 

Winfield trustees are expected to decide Thursday night whether one of their own engaged in misconduct by sending an email urging local school board members to weigh in on how Roosevelt Road should be developed.

Trustee Tim Allen has long been pushing for Winfield to commercialize Roosevelt to expand the village's revenue base.

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But some say Allen went too far when he sent a Feb. 26 email to Winfield Elementary District 34 school board members.

Allen says he reached out to District 34 and other taxing districts because Winfield is going through the process of updating its comprehensive plan. Part of the document will include options for Roosevelt Road.

He said he encouraged the taxing districts to share their views on whether efforts to develop Roosevelt should focus on commercial projects, residential projects or a mix of both.

"Part of my job is to educate the taxing bodies on what's at stake here," Allen said Wednesday.

Village President Erik Spande said Allen is free to speak to whoever he likes and advocate for his position. "Unfortunately, he made a number of representations in the email that were inappropriate," Spande said.

Allen provided an estimate for how much property tax revenue District 34 could get if Roosevelt Road is developed with a commercial focus.

"The numbers were not vetted by staff and have since been shown to be incorrect," Spande said.

In another part of the email, Allen inferred the village is considering a tax increment financing district for the area.

School districts and other taxing bodies often oppose the creation of a TIF district because it limits the amount of new property tax revenue they can receive from land within the area.

Spande insists the village board has never talked about creating a TIF district along Roosevelt. By mentioning the possibility of a TIF district, he said, Allen engaged in scare tactics.

"Threatening another unit of government on a sensitive issue like a TIF district is not acceptable," Spande said.

Allen says there have been informal discussions about including Roosevelt in a TIF district. When it comes to property tax estimates, Allen said he has repeatedly asked village officials to calculate how much additional revenue each taxing district would get if Roosevelt was commercialized.

"When I ask for the real numbers, they won't tell me," Allen said. "I don't think they want the other taxing bodies to know how much they stand to make or, more importantly, to lose."

If trustees determine that Allen engaged in misconduct, they could decide to take a vote to censure him during their next regular meeting.

Allen says he did nothing wrong. He said he's not worried about the possibility of a censure, which is essentially a public slap on the wrist that carries no further penalties.

"It's like a bunch of angry people shaking their fists at the kids on their front lawns," Allen said. "It's a nothing thing."

Allen accused his political opponents of trying to control him.

"The only group that can control me is the taxpayers," Allen said. "I work for the people who put me in office, and I will continue to work for the people who put me in office."

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