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U-46 supports changes to Hanover Park TIF

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 was mostly supportive of an extension and expansion to a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in the Village of Hanover Park during a discussion at its May 6 meeting.
  Hanover Park will be holding a public hearing regarding a redevelopment amendment in front of a joint review board on Thursday, June 20 at its Village Hall.
  “Among other matters, the amendment extends the term of the Village Center Redevelopment Project Area from 23 years to 35 years and adds additional territory,” the notice of public hearing states.
  Jeff King, U-46’s deputy superintendent of operations, said he was a member of the joint review board and was seeking guidance on how he should vote from the U-46 board, which did not have to take any official vote.
  In March, 2018, the previous U-46 board approved of a letter in support of extending the TIF 12 years. That vote was 4-2 with Sue Kerr, the board’s current president, and former board member Jeanette Ward voting no.
  In 2018, Hanover Park stated in a resolution that the TIF was “set to expire in six years and will not achieve its development goals without the extension,” and the TIF was “running a deficit of $6.6 million as of the 2016 reporting period.”
  For the current discussion, King said the only difference from what the U-46 board approved last year was additional land being added to the TIF which adds “about 6 acres of property to the TIF which is all Metra parking on the south side of the tracks. It’s already tax-exempt property so we don’t collect any taxes from that property, and there’s a little bit of Liberty Street that’s included in that.”
  King said that Hanover Park needs access to underground utilities for upgrades but won’t be able to use TIF funds to perform those upgrades without adding the additional land onto the TIF. He added that “the addition of the property really is a moot point because it’s tax-exempt.”
  Board member Melissa Owens asked why it was tax-exempt to which King said “it’s Metra’s property.” U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said the district was opposed and did not plan on bringing the discussion to the board until finding out the additional land was tax-exempt.
  Kerr said she was opposed last year and “I continue to oppose it” stating that this sets a precedent of continuing to extend TIFs at will.
  Owens said she was supportive of the extension but agreed with Kerr saying “now we’re finding ourselves in a situation where something’s being incrementally added.” She said last year that she supported the TIF extension because Rodney Craig, Hanover Park’s mayor, is a “supporter of U-46.”
  Board member John Devereux replied: “I’m not sure it sets a precedent. We have the option to say this one’s ok and a future one isn’t.”
  Board member Donna Smith said she agreed with the TIFs expansion saying “it won’t really effect what we’ve already agreed on,” and board members Veronica Noland and Eva Porter concurred. Porter’s husband, Herb Porter, is a Hanover Park trustee and supporter of Craig.
  U-46 resident Tracy Smodilla spoke during public comments and said she opposed the expansion on principle but also said there’s been a lack of transparency. The public knows that King is a member of the joint review board because he brought this discussion to the board, but the public may largely be in the dark according to Smodilla.
  Smodilla said there are no meeting minutes from the last joint review board meeting on Nov. 13 and nothing is posted on who is a member of the board or how they were put onto the board, and “I think that there’s been a lack of transparency in how this request has actually been presented.”
  In the Village of Bartlett, Smodilla said she’s served on the Economic Development Commission for eight years and she’s philosophically opposed to TIFs that appear more akin to cronyism rather than free market competition.
  “I’ve already been to the dance a number of times (in Bartlett) on TIF requests, and I think unfortunately they’ve become just a vehicle for private investment at the expense of the local community,” Smodilla said
  Regarding this specific TIF, Smodilla said she’s frequently driven through this TIF area in Hanover Park and “it’s not blighted. As a matter of fact, that’s a district that stands to benefit from not just the I-390 extension but the proposed improvements to transportation there.”
  Last year, Craig claimed the I-390 (Elgin-O’Hare tollway) should help increase business activity in this TIF which should allow them to meet the original goals of the TIF with the extension. He also cited the personal and corporate tax cuts from the federal government under President Donald Trump will also increase business activity.
  However, in Illinois the state government has done the opposite increasing its personal income tax rate by 32 percent and its corporate tax rate by 33.3 percent.
  Illinois also continues to see its population decline according to Internal Revenue Service data. The state has dropped from the fifth most populated state to the sixth according to the U.S. Census Bureau.




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