District 300 presents own Sears plan

SPRINGFIELD — Community Unit District 300 officials Tuesday made public a proposed road map to what they say is a tax deal giving Sears Holdings Corp. what it wants to stay in Hoffman Estates and sending more money to the school district.

How seriously the proposal will be considered in Springfield, though, remains to be seen.

Sears is asking for its 20-year-old property tax deal with Hoffman Estates to be extended by 15 years, giving the company time to recoup $125 million in road and bridge investments it has made locally. Sears has threatened to move if it doesn’t get the tax concessions.

But officials at the Carpentersville-based school district have said they want to see the tax breaks expire as planned next year, sending $14 million a year in new money their way.

District 300 says its new proposal would extend Sears’ tax breaks, then ask Hoffman Estates, Sears, Illinois and District 300 each to sacrifice $2 million a year from what they’re asking for. That would leave $12 million in new money for Carpentersville schools every year.

But the plan would leave Sears $30 million short of what they’re asking for over 15 years.

“While we want Sears to stay in our school district, it is no longer necessary, or morally appropriate, for school property taxes to continue footing nearly the entire bill for keeping Sears here,” District 300 Superintendent Michael Bregy said.

Sears executives this week made clear that the $125 million was what they sought and that they’d make a decision by the end of the year whether to stay in Hoffman Estates or leave for another state.

Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said that while he hadn’t seen the school district’s plan, he doesn’t want to give up money the village needs to maintain and provide services to the land Sears and nearby companies occupy.

“We’ll be upside down under this scenario,” McLeod said.

Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat who controls the legislation, said that while he’s seen and considered District 300’s plan, the framework for a compromise he laid out Monday remains.

Kotowski said he’s working to extend Sears’ tax deal, craft punishments for Sears if the company leaves Hoffman Estates and send more money to District 300, but it was unclear how much. Details still need to be worked out, he said.

Sen. Mike Noland said that at a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats, Sears legislation wasn’t discussed as a potential goal to be accomplished this week.

The Elgin Democrat said that didn’t concern him, given that a deal hasn’t yet been worked out. Lawmakers are scheduled to meet again starting Nov. 8.

District 300 officials have been the harshest critics of an extension of Sears’ tax deal.

“I’m very proud of the school district and the way they’ve handled this matter,” Noland said.

Community Unit District 300 Superintendent Michael Bregy
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