Wheeling delays tax increment financing districts

Updated 6/3/2014 5:06 PM
  • Dean Argiris

    Dean Argiris

Wheeling postponed re-establishing two tax increment financing districts Monday, which also postponed any lawsuit from school districts and the library and park districts that serve the community.

The village board must wait for Cook County's certified equalized assessed valuation for the areas within the districts, said Village Manager Jon Sfondilis. He said after the meeting that officials are willing to answer questions raised by the other boards.

Village President Dean Argiris said if the valuations had been available trustees would have voted to establish the two districts: the Town Center TIF district along Dundee Road where three developments have been announced, including the entertainment, shopping and residential district on land the village owns that once held Wickes Furniture, and the Southeast TIF district near Chicago Executive Airport.

Four taxing bodies -- Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Wheeling Township Elementary District 21, Wheeling Park District and Indian Trails Library District -- met in closed session Saturday. The group then sent the village a message that if the TIF districts are established "some or all of the districts will file a lawsuit challenging the legality of the resetting process."

Wheeling terminated the two TIF districts early and plans the new tax zones in the same or similar locations because their assessed valuations are less now than when the TIF districts were established. Funds for development come from increased property values and taxes.

The problem for the other governments is that any property tax revenues gained from the new development will not be shared with them during the life of the TIF districts.

They maintain that Wheeling is illegally extending the TIF districts beyond the 23 years set by law. The Town Center TIF district would have expired in 2026, and the Southeast TIF districts in 17 years.

They have argued for months for an agreement that gives them a set share of the increased revenues after the expiration dates for the original TIF districts. Argiris said that would be fine unless at that time the village has already promised TIF monies for another development.

Plans for $150 million in development for the Town Center TIF district will disappear if a lawsuit goes forward, Argiris said.

"The developers will walk," he said. "We have $150 million ready, but the TIFs are incentives for the developers. They will not wait."

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