Libertyville shares $2.3 million TIF rebate
A pending tax rebate of about $82,000 represents a sliver of the Cook Memorial Public Library District's annual budget, but it is welcome nonetheless.
"It's a nice lump of funding," library Director Stephen Kershner said. "We're happy to have some funds to work with."
For a fourth consecutive year, the library district is among about a dozen taxing bodies to share in a substantial sum of property taxes rebated by the village of Libertyville. The estimated distribution from taxes collected in 2013 is more than $2.2 million, the highest to date.
The money comes from property taxes generated in the downtown and an area to the east, which was designated a tax increment financing district in 1986. The value of property used for taxing purposes was frozen for 23 years and those entities received nothing in new taxes, even though values began to increase as improvements were made.
Instead, additional taxes collected on the improved property (the increment) were set aside in a special fund for various projects and other expenses that have helped transform the area into a vibrant gathering place.
However, the intended work of the original plan was not complete. So in 2009, the village with the approval of the taxing bodies and the General Assembly, extended the district for 12 years. The condition was that 70 percent of the increment be returned to those taxing bodies.
This time, estimated returns vary from $14,935 to the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency to $812,754 for Libertyville Elementary District 70. The village will receive an estimated $177,866. What the money is used for depends on the agency.
"Currently, it just goes into the general fund," and is used for general day-to-day operations, said Pat Wesolowski, the village's finance director.
District 70 has budgeted its annual cut to help pay the costs of a 2011 bond issue of $4.27 million for school building improvements, including new roofs, air conditioning, windows and security features.
"We're getting close," to paying it off, said Kurt Valentin, assistant superintendent of finance and operations.
Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 will receive the second largest amount at $792,659. Administrators will discuss the most effective use of the funds with the school board.
In the past, the library district has used the funds for new technology in its collections. The money was considered a bonus, but it was tallied as anticipated revenue starting last year, Kershner said.
The board will decide whether to use it for general or specific purposes in the $8.2 million budget. Cook Memorial is among the leaders in circulation and usage among libraries in Illinois.
"The board, probably by March, will be approving a new strategic plan and I assume there will be some things in that plan that will be new, exciting and different," Kershner said.
As of last May, there was about $2.9 million in the tax increment fund to be used for parking improvements. The major expense will be a second parking deck on the east side of Milwaukee Avenue that is expected to cost about $3.5 million. The design is in progress but a groundbreaking date has not been scheduled.