Geneva mayor suggests TIF deal compromise to school district

Updated 5/23/2016 11:24 PM

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns has suggested making a deal with the Geneva school district over two properties in a proposed downtown tax-increment financing district, to mollify the school district's dislike over potentially missing out on increased property taxes for 23 years.

But the school board still prefers that the city drop the TIF idea altogether, or at least shorten its life.


School board President Mark Grosso said Burns approached him Friday. Grosso told the school board Monday that Burns said the city could remove the Covenant Retirement Community building at Route 25 and State Street, and the Geneva on the Dam complex at River Lane and State from the TIF district.

Burns confirmed Monday that he suggested some ideas to Grosso but declined to specify details or confirm those are the properties.

"In the spirit of collaboration with our friends at the school district, we continue to explore a bevy of options that satisfies each of our goals and objectives," Burns said.

The two also discussed the school district's request that the city stop the process of developing the TIF and convene a task force of representatives of all the taxing bodies affected, Grosso said. That task force could investigate other ways to spur economic development in the area of the proposed TIF, most of which is east of the Fox River.

The city council is scheduled to vote on creating the TIF district June 13. Monday night, aldermen discussed moving the vote to June 20 but took no action because it was a committee-of-the-whole meeting, and the item was not on the agenda.

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The school district has suggested the city consider tax abatements or creating enterprise zones for parcels in the proposed TIF and has said it is willing to consider rebating some of the school's property taxes. In 2014, it agreed to do so on some land in Batavia where a factory proposed to build.

It has also suggested making the TIF last just 10 years. By state law, cities can establish TIFs that last up to 23 years.

The TIF district is being proposed for conservation of property, instead of to improve a blighted area. In a conservation TIF district, the property tax increment money can be used for projects that keep properties from deteriorating excessively (such as replacing a cracked driveway). It can also be used for work that increase a property's value, such as razing a vacant building and erecting something else.

The school district contends many of the properties in the proposed TIF are in fine shape, with normal deterioration, and are not as vacant as the city's TIF consultant has reported. It also contends private businesses have made significant investments recently in many of the properties.

The property taxes collected in a TIF are frozen at the amount collected when the TIF is created. Any increase in taxes is put in a fund the city can spend on improvements in the TIF district.

The Covenant building was built in 2001. It was in the former TIF District 1.

The Geneva on the Dam complex was built in 1982.

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