Wheeling won't use tax dollars to help condo owners make repairs

 
 
Updated 8/23/2018 4:10 PM

Wheeling officials have rejected a request by condominium owners for about $200,000 in taxpayer dollars to complete major repairs at their complex.

Cameo North Annex Association members asked for tax increment financing assistance -- money that's earmarked for economic development projects and improvements -- to repair balconies at the 51-unit complex at 200 Deborah Lane.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The failing balconies are causing water leaks, cracked ceilings and other infrastructure problems. Additionally, the space between balcony railings it too wide and out of compliance with safety rules intended to keep children from falling through. Estimated costs for the project are between $268,000 and $700,000, depending on the extent of upgrades.

The village board unanimously rejected the request. Trustees Ray Lang and Ken Brady were absent.

Bill Hein, a former village trustee and president of the condominium association, said the project cannot be completed without TIF assistance because most the residents, all of whom are 55 or older, live on fixed incomes and can't afford special assessments.

"You're going to have a very serious problem that we can't cope with," Hein said. "If we had the money, we wouldn't be here asking you for it."

In a TIF district, tax revenue generated by new development in the area is diverted to a fund used to pay for additional improvements through public or private projects. Village staff members recommended against using these funds because the project won't generate additional tax revenue nor improve the aesthetics of the property.

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"We believe that the village should not use TIF assistance to fund regular maintenance of the property," said John Melaniphy, director of economic development.

Two years ago, the village approved $300,000 in TIF assistance for Arbor Court Apartments. That money was used for tuck-pointing, new windows, new sidewalks, a parking lot addition, new retaining walls and new roofs. Though the improvements also did not generate new tax revenue, the village justified using the funds because it upgraded the aesthetics of a blighted apartment complex along the busy Dundee Road corridor.

Trustee Joe Vito was the only board member to say Monday that tax dollars could potentially be used for the project. He suggested that the condominium association could apply for a $50,000 grant the village created to help property owners improve building facades.

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