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Government

Elmhurst District 205 board takes stance against city's downtown TIF proposal

Elmhurst City Manager Jim Grabowski responds to Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education President Shannon Ebner's remarks at the Jan. 24 Joint Review Board meeting about the proposed new TIF district for downtown Elmhurst.
Elmhurst City Manager Jim Grabowski responds to Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education President Shannon Ebner's remarks at the Jan. 24 Joint Review Board meeting about the proposed new TIF district for downtown Elmhurst.

ELMHURST – The city of Elmhurst and Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205's disagreements over financial agreements came to a head at the Joint Review Board meeting Jan. 24 about the city's proposed new downtown TIF.

Robert Rychlicki, executive vice president at financial services firm Kane, McKenna and Associates, which specializes in municipal economic development, presented on the qualifications for the TIF at the meeting, which was at Elmhurst City Hall.

Alderman Kevin York, the chairman for the Joint Review Board, summarized the five qualifications for making the new TIF as obsolescence, deterioration, inadequate utilities, deleterious land use and layout, and decline or lag in estimated assessed value growth.

The current downtown TIF, which was created in 1986, is set to expire in 2021. The plan is to end the current TIF early and put in a TIF with fewer properties but including some publicly owned properties, such as the Elmhurst Public Library and Wilder Park, so they can partner with the city on redevelopment and improvements to their properties, City Manager Jim Grabowski said at the Dec. 18, 2017, Elmhurst City Council meeting.

During a period of the meeting set aside for questions and comments from the Joint Review Board members, District 205 Board of Education President Shannon Ebner made some remarks on behalf of the school board.

Ebner questioned whether the proposed TIF meets the eligibility criteria under the statutory criteria.

"The district also questions whether the city can legally abolish TIF 1 and then immediately establish TIF 6 over substantially the same area and for substantially the same reasons it used to establish TIF 1 32 years ago in 1986," Ebner said. "In fact, the city is creating a 55-year TIF, which far exceeds the statutory time limitations on the existence of a TIF. This appears to be contrary to the TIF statute and to Illinois court decisions, which our municipality's been doing indirectly what they cannot do directly."

The Joint Review Board approved the Redevelopment Plan and Project in a 5-1 vote, with the school board, represented by Ebner, voting against it.

Ebner said the district wants further discussion with the city about the proposal, the financial impact on the district the new TIF would have, the status of payments following the 2004 intergovernmental agreement and financial considerations proposed by the city that may benefit the school district. Through the 2004 intergovernmental agreement, the city is obligated to release some surplus funding from TIFs to the school district.

She requested the discussions be completed before the Feb. 27 Board of Education meeting and include Elmhurst's city manager, finance director and attorneys in addition to the district's superintendent, assistant superintendent of finance and attorneys.

"I think in taking up the school district's invitation to meet and further discuss this, I think it would be appropriate to also discuss some form of agreement to memorialize any benefits that might come between the taxing bodies as we've had with TIF 1 and that would be brought to City Council for consideration as well," City Manager Jim Grabowski said in response to Ebner.

A public hearing will be at 7:30 p.m. March 5 during the regularly scheduled Elmhurst City Council meeting at Elmhurst City Hall, 209 N. York St. The public hearing will be an opportunity for the public to give comments, Rychlicki said.

On March 19, TIF 1 would be terminated, and there would be final approval by the City Council of new downtown TIF ordinances, which would be transmitted to the DuPage County Clerk on March 20.

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