Taxing bodies ­­-- except schools -- OK with proposed Geneva TIF

  • The falling-apart Mill Race Inn building on the Fox River in Geneva. Creating a tax-increment financing district could help support redevelopment of the property.

      The falling-apart Mill Race Inn building on the Fox River in Geneva. Creating a tax-increment financing district could help support redevelopment of the property. John Starks | Staff Photographer, September 2015

  • The Buttermilk restaurant in Geneva has been cited as an example of development that has occurred without the benefit of tax increment financing district help.

      The Buttermilk restaurant in Geneva has been cited as an example of development that has occurred without the benefit of tax increment financing district help. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, June 2015

 
 
Posted4/8/2016 5:30 AM

The Geneva school district continued Thursday to oppose the creation of a tax increment financing district on the east side of downtown in Geneva.

It cast the only "no" vote at a joint review board meeting about Geneva Fox River TIF 3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The other members -- one each from the city, Kane County, Waubonsee Community College and the public ­-- recommended the city council create the TIF district. Park and library district officials did not attend. Neither did anyone from Geneva Township.

The school district would be the most affected financially, because it collects the highest percentage of property taxes. Tax payments to the school district would be frozen at an estimated $423,000 a year, for 23 years, according to the district's representative, attorney Rick Petesch.

In TIF districts, property-tax payments to governments are frozen. Any increase in property taxes is instead put in a special city-administered fund, to be used to pay for things that improve the value of properties in the district.

Kane County Supervisor of Assessments Mark Armstrong, representing the county, said he would have favorably considered continuing the meeting, instead of voting, if the school district had brought documents supporting its objections, or had its consultant testify. Without that, the district's objections were "hearsay," he said.

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The school district hired a firm to study the proposal. The district contends that the proposal has inflated the severity of deterioration and vacancy of properties.

The proposed TIF district would be a "conservation" one, intended to stop the area from becoming blighted.

Petesch said development has taken place, including restaurants, stores, offices and a senior-citizen residence. And while the Geneva Bottling Works business is closed, the building is not vacant, he argued.

But the Mill Race Inn property on the river has been vacant since 2011, after suffering substantial damage in a 2007 flood. There's also a vacant former gasoline station on East State Street.

The Geneva Library board president said he was not aware of the meeting, and the library director said she was aware but that studying the proposal was a lower priority recently, as she dealt with closing on the purchase of land for a new library.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Geneva Park District executive director Sheavoun Lambillotte said the district had already made its points to city officials.

"While the Geneva Park District would prefer to operate without a TIF district, we understand the city's position in taking steps toward further redevelopment of the area referenced in TIF 3," Lambillotte said.

Geneva Township Supervisor Patrick Jaeger could not be reached for comment.

A public hearing on the TIF district proposal will be conducted at 7 p.m. May 16.

The city council could vote on it anytime after that.

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