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UPDATED: Village to State: Leave TIFs to Us

Orland Park is against new state legislation that would hand over control aspects of tax increment finance districts to the state government.

Updated at 12:15 p.m.: There are at least 19 bills that proposes changes to TIF districts floating amongst the Illinois General Assembly. A pdf document compiled by the Illinois Tax Increment Association and detailing each of those bills has been uploaded.

Who knows best on development matters, state or local officials?

Village Manager Paul Grimes told trustees on Monday that the Illinois General Assembly is considering several bills that would limit the uses of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, “one of the few remaining tools that allow municipalities to be part of a pro-active redevelopment effort.”

Notably, according to a prepared statement by village staff, the legislation could restrict the amount of money local governments invests into a TIF district, while forcing them to bear the entire cost of investment. As it stands, developers are often enticed to build with TIF agreements, sharing some of the costs with the community and reaping some of the gains.

What's more, local taxing bodies, like the school districts, could opt out of funding the TIF district, even though they'd gain financially from the improvements, trustee James Dodge said.

Certain board members also suggested that the proposed legislation could add unnecessarily to a TIF approval process beyond the local village and county.

A TIF district is an area within a village or city where for a set number of years, often 23 years in Illinois, increases in taxes don't go to taxing bodies. Rather, the increase from when the TIF started, or the increment, is put into a fund meant to pay for improvements—from infrastructure overhauls, to simple aesthetics like tree planters—to the area. After the set time limit passes, the tax money then goes back to the taxing bodies.

Agreeing with village staff, the board passed a resolution against these particular changes to TIF laws, putting their opinion on record for the state lawmakers to see.

Mayor Dan McLaughlin admonished the would-be changes for taking decision making away from local officials, while increasing their costs.

“It’s amazing how many unfunded mandates come from the state and federal government requiring more and more, and at the same time taking more and more of the rights of municipalities away,” he said.

If abuse of power is the real concern, state lawmakers can be assured that the village does no such thing, trustee Edward Schussler said.

“I think both times the village has done a TIF, we’ve had unanimous approval from the joint review board,” he said.

Because current TIFs would be grandfathered in, the village's sole remaining TIF, in the Main Street Triangle, would be untouched. In a recent , Schussler defended it, arguing that the area was once "blighted."

Grimes said the village has no immediate plans for another TIF district and opposes TIF changes on principle and as a gesture of "solidarity" with those communities who rely on them the way they are. The Illinois Municipal League, he noted, stands behind the village on this issue.

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