School districts oppose idea for second downtown Winfield tax district
A proposal to create another special taxing district in Winfield is facing opposition from two school districts because they would miss out on millions of dollars in property tax revenue over the next two decades.
Winfield trustees on Thursday night were poised to vote on a plan to create a second tax increment financing district in the village's downtown.
But the board postponed the decision to Nov. 4 so village officials could meet with representatives from Winfield Elementary District 34 and West Chicago High School District 94.
Trustee Debra Piscola said after the delay that everyone needs to negotiate and "hopefully get to yes because I think that's really the endgame for everyone."
In a tax increment financing district, property taxes paid to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. Any extra property tax money collected within the area after the district is established goes into a special fund to help pay for certain improvements.
But Winfield's plan to create a second TIF district has become controversial because local taxing bodies can't collect the extra property tax money until the TIF district runs out.
There's fear the new TIF district would cost District 34 and District 94 millions of dollars in lost revenue before expiring in 2044.
"We cannot support this proposed TIF," Gary Saake, a District 94 school board member, said last month. "Every dollar diverted from other taxing bodies to the village results in either a need for higher tax rates in those other units of governments or fewer programs and services that could be offered."
Winfield's existing TIF district will expire in 2028. Proponents say the new TIF district is needed to spur continued downtown development. It also would generate money for a new village hall project.
As part of a redevelopment of downtown, a public plaza and two stand-alone buildings could be built on the existing village hall site. The village hall, which also houses the police station, would be torn down and relocated.
If that happens, the village will need to acquire property and build a new village hall. Or it could buy an existing building and convert it.
Either way, money for the village hall project would come from revenue generated by the new TIF district.
Former Village President Erik Spande says the village hall project could cost $8 million to $16 million. Trustees say the estimated cost is not known.
"The purpose of the village of Winfield TIF 2 is not about economic development," Spande said. "It's about securing sufficient funds to build a new village hall."
If approved, the new TIF district would have many of the properties that are in the existing downtown TIF district.
"Being able to move forward and to make sure that we are able to complete the town center development is absolutely critical for where this village goes and what its future looks like for the next 50-plus years," Winfield Village President Carl Sorgatz said.