ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council passed five ordinances at its March 19 meeting in relation to a new downtown tax increment financing district, or TIF.
The ordinances ended the old TIF, named the Central Business District Redevelopment Project Area, and created the new TIF, which is the Downtown Redevelopment Project Area. The former downtown TIF, which was created in 1986, was set to expire in 2021.
Alderman Michael Honquest presented at the meeting on the rationale for the new TIF.
He said recently declared retailer bankruptcies, such as those from Toys "R" Us and Claire's, have highlighted the "very changing, very dynamic" current economic landscape.
"We have to look at these factors and be strategic in what we do and how we move forward. And the TIF's one of those tools that we have that we can leverage to help with development," Honquest said. "And I think the benefits of what we've done in the past and the decisions that have been made here are bearing tremendous fruit for us here in Elmhurst."
Votes for the ordinances about the intent of the process and the termination of the old TIF were unanimously approved, but alderman Michael Bram voted against the ordinances approving the plan, designation and adoption of the new TIF.
Bram said the TIF tool has been helpful for the time the Central Business District Redevelopment Project Area was in place, but he argued the city should allow for "the market to take effect" instead of adding another 23 years for a similar TIF area.
Alderman Mark Mulliner countered the city has a responsibility to continue to grow and develop its property tax base.
"The other two main taxing bodies in the city of Elmhurst rely on that tax base. ... We're the only ones with that capability to increase that tax base, especially in a landlocked community," Mulliner said.
He added the city included some property from the Elmhurst Park District and Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 so that the city could have the flexibility to be able to fund and assist with any needed capital improvement projects.
"We're the place that can make it happen," Mulliner said. "We're the place that can make a difference when it comes to economic development. Unfortunately, they don't have the tools to do that. We do."
Upon completion of the private development of the proposed new TIF area over a 23-year period, the city estimates the equalized assessed value of the property within the area will be within a range of $75 million to $95 million, according to a report prepared by Kane, McKenna and Associates.
The city and the school district, which voted against the new TIF at the Joint Review Board meeting in January citing concerns about financial impacts on the district, will continue to meet until concerns are resolved, Honquest said.