Elk Grove Village has recovered from the Great Recession, but village officials want to do more to help the business community -- concentrating most of those efforts on the nation's largest contiguous business park that sits on the east side of town, Mayor Craig Johnson said Thursday during an address to local business leaders.
Johnson, Elk Grove's 18-year incumbent mayor, pushed his economic development agenda during his annual state of the village address Thursday at an Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
At the top of Johnson's list: implementation of a tax increment financing district along the Busse Road and Elmhurst Road corridors aimed at modernizing aging buildings, utilities, stormwater detention, roads, sidewalks, streetlights, signs, as well as overall aesthetic improvements.
"Our community is getting older. Our business park is getting older. We've got to update it," Johnson said.
For the first time, Johnson mentioned a specific potential project that could benefit from TIF revenues. He said he and other village officials have met with owners of a sales company who want to purchase two large adjacent vacant parcels of land near the Busse corridor.
The company would generate nearly $2 million a year in sales tax revenues for the village -- which represents one-eighth of what the village currently receives from all businesses in town.
In an interview after the address, Johnson declined to reveal the name of the company or where the vacant land is, but said the parcels are a "few acres each."
While not specifically addressing the sales company, Johnson said the TIF funds in general could be used for new public improvements like sewer mains, which a new private business might otherwise have had to pay for on its own.
Johnson said village officials are currently working on details with the sales company owners about receiving TIF funds.
Another potential TIF project on the village's wishlist is a reconfiguration of the intersection of Busse Road, Higgins Road and Oakton Street, Johnson revealed. The proposal is to raise one of the streets over the other two. The current intersection, he said, is "a road nightmare."
In approving the TIF district in March, the village board passed ordinances that will freeze property taxes paid to all local governments within the 904-acre TIF area at their current levels for as many as 23 years. Property taxes collected above those levels would be allocated to a special village fund used to pay for public and private improvements.
Some residents have objected to the TIF, arguing other taxing bodies will shift their tax burdens onto property owners outside the TIF district. Johnson has maintained implementing the TIF isn't a tax increase and that it would spread economic benefits outside the TIF area.
"If TIFs are done properly, they have an effect beyond the TIF district. Some communities don't use them right. They abuse them," Johnson said. "We have shown that we know how to use a TIF. We know how to treat it fairly."
Elk Grove's two other TIFs resulted in new retail developments: the Elk Grove Town Center near Biesterfield and Arlington Heights roads, and a shopping center near Devon Avenue and Nerge Road.
The village will begin receiving TIF revenues in October 2015, but the village board recently set aside $1.5 million from village reserves as "seed money" for TIF-related projects. Once TIF monies are generated, village reserves will be reimbursed, Johnson said.