Elmhurst, District 205 discuss implications of proposed TIF

Shannon Ebner, president of the Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education, reads a statement at the Jan. 24 Joint Review Board meeting about the proposed new TIF district for downtown Elmhurst.[]

ELMHURST – With the public hearing for the proposed new downtown TIF district set for March 5, the city of Elmhurst and Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 are discussing what establishing the new TIF would mean for the school district.

These discussions follow the district's dissenting vote at a Joint Review Board meeting Jan. 24 about the proposed new TIF, which would replace the current downtown TIF. The current TIF was created in 1986, and it 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.

At the Joint Review Board meeting, school board President Shannon Ebner, representing the school district, voted against the TIF. In a statement before the vote, Ebner said the district questioned whether the proposed TIF meets the necessary eligibility criteria. She added the district would like to have further discussion with the city about the proposal, the financial impact the new TIF would have on the district, the status of payments following the 2004 intergovernmental agreement and financial considerations proposed by the city that may benefit the district.

Through the 2004 intergovernmental agreement, the city is obligated to release some surplus funding from TIFs to the school district.

Mayor Steve Morley said at the Feb. 5 Elmhurst City Council meeting that he found the meeting request "quite surprising." He reiterated he had a "standing offer" to the school board for a public meeting to discuss any issues the board may have.

"The city stands ready to answer any and all questions that anybody has with regard to this endeavor," he said at the meeting.

Ebner said in a phone interview Feb. 7 that the district wants to become informed on what it would mean for TIF 1 to be abolished, and her vote against the TIF does not mean the district doesn't want the TIF, but that the district wants to know the financial and legal implications involved.

"We want to work with the city. ... We're trying to become informed," Ebner said.

Ebner said in a statement emailed Feb. 7 that Elmhurst's plans will have "a significant financial impact" on the school district and its taxpayers for at least the next 23 years. Illinois law allows a TIF project to exist for up to 23 years after its creation.

"In order to preserve its options in responding to the City’s plans, the District 205 Board, represented by me, voted 'no' on establishing TIF 6," Ebner said in the statement.

Representatives of the city and the district met Jan. 30 to discuss in more detail the school board's statement to the Joint Review Board on Jan. 24, and the same group is in the process of scheduling another meeting to focus on identfying the financial impact of the TIF plans and the concept presented by the city to "mitigate the impact," Ebner said in the statement.

Ebner added in the statement that the request to complete the financial work before the school board's Feb. 27 meeting was so the board could develop "an informed position" to voice at the March 5 public hearing.

"District 205 has not demanded anything of the City at this point," Ebner said in the statement. "Instead, the District is trying to become as informed as possible about the legal and financial implications of the City’s TIF plans, and determine its formal position, within the tight schedule for approval set by the City."

The hearing will be at 7:30 p.m. at Elmhurst City Hall, 209 N. York St.