Geneva schools seek public's help to fight TIF

Updated 4/26/2016 9:58 AM
An incorrect address was given for Geneva Middle School North in a previous version.

The Geneva school board is enlisting the public's help to get the City of Geneva to drop plans to create a tax increment financing district for development in part of the downtown.

The school district will have a forum at 7 p.m. May 3 at Geneva Middle School North, 1357 Viking Drive.


Speakers, including a lawyer and a consultant for the district, will discuss why district officials believe creation of Fox River Redevelopment Project Area TIF 3 could hurt the school district.

The city proposed creating the TIF district for an area on the east side of downtown near the Fox River. It says the area is eligible as a conservation TIF due to age and deterioration of buildings, "inadequate" growth in the value of property, and inadequate infrastructure such as water mains, sewers, streets and sidewalks.

In a TIF district, the amount of property taxes collected for governing bodies, including the school district, are frozen for up to 23 years. Any incremental growth in property taxes is collected in a fund the city can use to pay for things that improve the properties and make them more valuable.

At the end of the TIF, the difference in the properties' value at the beginning and end is calculated, and taxing bodies get to book the difference as new construction for purpose of levying taxes. The state property tax limitation law restricts increases in levies to no more than 5 percent or the rate of inflation. There is a one-year exception for new construction.

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District 304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler said the city, historically, has been good about considering the district's requests on matters.

"This TIF has not followed suit in that regard," he said.

The district has asked the city to delay a scheduled May 16 vote on the matter, and suggested it form a task force, with members from other taxing bodies, to find other solutions to spur redevelopment in the eastern downtown.

Mutchler said the school district agreed to some incentives when properties were developed along Randall Road. It also had an agreement with the City of Batavia, in which part of the district lies, when it was offering incentives for a factory to build on vacant land.

Batavia has home rule authority, which allowed it to offer property tax rebates. The school district was willing to rebate 42 percent of the increased amount of property taxes it would receive over a nine-year spread.

The school district contends the city's consultant has overestimated the amount of deterioration and vacancies in the proposed district.

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