Geneva, school district working out differences on proposed TIF?

  • Geneva school district officials have pointed to this block of shops and restaurants, in the 0-100 block of East State Street, as an example of why a proposed tax-increment financing district is not needed.

      Geneva school district officials have pointed to this block of shops and restaurants, in the 0-100 block of East State Street, as an example of why a proposed tax-increment financing district is not needed. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

  • The former Geneva Bottling Works is in an area the city wants to make a tax-increment financing district, to spur property maintenance and economic development.

      The former Geneva Bottling Works is in an area the city wants to make a tax-increment financing district, to spur property maintenance and economic development. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/13/2016 11:15 PM

The city of Geneva and the Geneva school district are working on an agreement that might satisfy some of the concerns the school district has about not getting all the future property tax dollars to which it is entitled off land on the eastern side of Geneva's downtown.

School district attorney Rick Petesch said Monday, at a city council committe-of-the-whole meeting, he expects to receive a draft in the next few days, and that will determine whether the district stops protesting the proposed tax-increment financing district for an area east of Route 31.

 

The city council discussed the proposed TIF district 3, but did not vote on it, nor did the council schedule a vote.

The city has proposed using tax-increment financing to spur rehabilitation and redevelopment of property for an area generally east of Route 31. The money could be used for public or private projects.

In a TIF district, the amount of property taxes paid to taxing bodies is frozen at the Year 1 level for up to 23 years.

Any additional property taxes during that period go in to a special fund administered by the city. The money can be used for work, such as constructing a new building; improving streets and utilities; and in the case of the conservation TIF proposed, repairing properties.

State law requires a determination that, "but for" the money supplied by the TIF district, the improvements would not take place.

The school district would still receive what it gets now in taxes, about $423,000 a year, unless the property values drop.

At the end of the TIF district's life, it could book the increase in the district's equalized assessed value as "new property," and increase its levy to capture more tax dollars than is normally allowed under the state's property tax-cap law.

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Aldermen asked questions of Catherine Tymoszenko, the city's economic development director, and of the consultants who wrote the eligibility report for the proposed district.

They discussed the overlap between expired TIF 1, which covered part of the same area and ended in 2004, and the proposed new district. The school district has pointed out that some properties would be in a TIF district for 46 of 57 years, if TIF 3 is approved.

"I wouldn't say it is common," said Geoff Dickinson, senior project manager for S.B. Friedman, the firm that did the study. "It almost always happens in downtowns … downtowns are hard to redevelop."

The city contends that the area has lost value at a greater rate than properties in the rest of the city, and that it is served by aging and inadequate utilities. There are also several prominent vacant properties in the proposed district, including a former gasoline station, a strip office center, the former Geneva Bottling Works and the Mill Race Inn restaurant.

But there is also the busy Buttermilk restaurant, a retirement community, filled shops and offices and a successful funeral home, the school district counters.

The problem is that we have seen patterns of decline and we do not expect substantial redevelopment which will change the trajectory of the area," Tymoszenko said.

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