Libertyville taxing bodies get payday from special financing district

Proceeds from a special financing district created in 1986 to stimulate investment in downtown Libertyville again are being shared with several taxing bodies as the village tries to finish its work.

As it has the past few years, Libertyville is rebating 70 percent of the increased property tax revenue that has been generated in its downtown tax increment financing district. It was a requirement that allowed the district to be extended beyond its original 23-year life span.

This year, the rebate of $2,059,852 is to be distributed among more than a dozen taxing bodies based on the percentage of taxes each levies.

The bulk of the rebate again will go to Libertyville Elementary District 70, which will receive $776,410, and Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128, which will get $705,579.

In District 70, for example, the rebates have been used to make bond payments for past work that has been considered critical in neighborhood schools, according to Superintendent Guy Schumacher.

Projects have included: roof replacements and air conditioning at Adler, Copeland and portions of Rockland schools; window replacement at Butterfield, Highland and portions of Rockland; and, safety and security improvements at all five sites.

And though it is a much smaller amount, the $77,121 to be received by the Cook Memorial Public Library District has been a welcome addition.

“We do not budget for it. It’s a bonus for us,” said Stephen Kershner, the library’s executive director. He said the library board will determine how the funds will be used.

Last year, the money was put in the general fund budget, which pays for day-to-day operations. Two years ago, $7,500 was allotted for exterior renovation of the Cook Mansion, a showcase in downtown Libertyville that served as the original library, according to Kershner.

“I’m sure there will be many suggestions of how to utilize these funds,” he said.

In a TIF district, the value of property is frozen for taxing purposes but still assessed. As improvements are made, such as new sidewalks or lighting, taxes are paid on the higher value. The difference, known as the increment, is withheld from the various taxing bodies and set aside in a special fund controlled by the village for various uses.

Saying TIF money was needed to finish parking projects on both sides of Milwaukee Avenue, the village secured the approval of taxing bodies to allow the extension of the district until the end of 2021, with the condition that 70 percent would be rebated each year. That measure was approved by the Illinois General Assembly in 2008.

The money from the TIF extension was used to complete parking improvements, including a parking garage on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue to serve the downtown.

The extra time also allows the village to pursue parking projects on the east side. The village is working with 10 property owners regarding a surface parking lot improvement on the 500 block on the east side of Milwaukee Avenue and continues to consider another site on the east side for a parking garage.

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