Posted Online: Dec. 01, 2012, 6:04 pm
Should Moline OK more TIFs?
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By Dawn Neuses, email@example.com
MOLINE -- Tax Increment Financing districts, commonly used economic development tools that generally fly through city councils when they're proposed, are encountering strong headwinds in Moline these days.
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Moline residents Sandy O'Neill and Kim and Bob Lazenby stand on land that is being considered for a Tax Increment Financing district. A Genesis Medical Center development is to be built on the Moline site along 41st St. Ms. O'Neill and the Lazenbys believe TIF districts are over-used and misused in Moline. Each have educated themselves on the intent of TIF legislation and its use in Moline and hope proposals for its use in the city fail.
In the past two months, the city council has considered adding three new TIF districts to the seven the city already has.
One, to support a proposed 48-acre Genesis Medical Center office complex near 41st Street and 26th Ave., initially was rejected on a 6-2 vote, though it is being reconsidered. (A public information session on the proposal will be held at 1 p.m. this afternoon at the Moline Public Library.)
A second proposed TIF district, near the intersection of U. S. 6 and 150, was approved only when Mayor Don Welvaert broke a 4-4 tie vote on the council.
Consideration of the third proposed TIF district, to support redevelopment of South Park Mall, has been delayed until a dispute over the current assessed value of the mall is settled.
Fueling the resistance are skeptical aldermen, and a small group of residents who are attending weekly city council meetings, asking questions and taking a stand against the use of TIF districts.
"Extreme caution" needed
"I think TIFs should be used with with extreme caution," said Ald. Sean Liddell, 7th Ward.
"They are very powerful tools, and, over the years, it has gotten to the point lawyers can make about anything fit into the requirement (that TIF districts be blighted). Public officials voting on these TIFs need to do their homework. They need to understand the true requirements before a TIF can be and should be legally approved. I don't know if that is truly happening now," he said.
TIF districts are intended to encourage new development and redevelopment in blighted areas that otherwise would not be improved. When a TIF district is established, the existing assessed value is set as a base, and the taxes on any increased value created by development goes to support improvements within the district or to give rebates to developers.
Various other taxing bodies -- schools, townships, the county, fire districts -- do not share in the increased property taxes until the TIF district expires, generally in 23 years, though they can be extended by 12 years..
Ald. Liddell, who voted against all three TIF districts under consideration, was joined by
Alds. Ted Ronk, 4th Ward; Kevin Schoonmaker, 6th Ward; and Stephanie Acri, At-Large, in opposing the Genesis and Route 6/50 TIF proposals
.Ald. Scott Raes, 3rd Ward, joined them to kill the Genesis proposal, but later asked that it be reconsidered. The council is scheduled to revote on the Genesis proposal Tuesday night.
Residents join the fight
Moline residents Sandy O'Neill and Kim and Bob Lazenby are against the TIF districts. They said they do not oppose development, but feel TIF is overused and misused, given the legislation was meant to spur renewal on blighted property.
"What we are doing here just does not seem appropriate to me," Mr. Lazenby said.
Ms. O'Neill said TIF districts siphon new property taxes away from the city's general fund. However, the cost of city services increase every year, and taxpayers have to make up that increase, she said. If TIF districts did not exist, those tax dollars could cover increasing city costs.
Also, Rock Island County, Moline School District, Moline and South Moline Townships, Quad City International Airport, Black Hawk College, and the rest of the taxing bodies would get additional property tax revenue to cover annual rising costs, Ms. Lazenby said.
"I think people should know the amount of money involved in all of these TIFs and how that money impacts the tax levies and operations of the city," Mr. Lazenby said.
Ald. Liddell believes TIF districts were created as a tool for cities having trouble attracting development due issues such as bad neighborhoods, gang activity and vacant and abandoned buildings. "It is a tool given to municipalities to entice or intent development that otherwise would not take place. In certain circumstances its use is appropriate. In these circumstances, it is not," he said.
Reasons to oppose, support TIF districts
Ald. Liddell said he voted against the SouthPark TIF because he wanted to give the mall owner
time to make investment in the property on its own. He said he feels creating a TIF for SouthPark and Route 6/150 goes against the intent of TIF law.
The proposed Genesis TIF district does not meet the technical requirements of the law, Ald. Liddell said. He said he was told by a hospital executive the development would move ahead if the TIF district was not established.
Ald. Liddell said for a TIF district to be established, it must meet a "but for" requirement that essentially says the development would not occur "but for" the TIF. "It is not legal for us to even approve it," Ald. Liddell said of the Genesis proposal.
There are times when TIF is appropriate, Ald. Schoonmaker said.
"The reason we should implement TIF is to attract or maintain businesses that also generate additional income. I have voted in favor of TIF for SouthPark, as the mall is not only the city's largest property taxpayer, it is also the city's largest sales taxpayer," Ald. Schoonmaker said, adding the city can help with the mall's redevelopment so the property does not decline further. That then leads to additional sales tax revenue in the general fund, he said.
"In my mind we have to do all we can to be a community partner with them because the success of the mall leads to the success of the city," he said.
Ald. Scott Raes, 3rd Ward, said he looks at every TIF proposal individually and supports all three.
He said in certain cases there is need for economic development tools, whether that is a sales tax rebate or a TIF district. "You can see what is going on in Rock Island with Walmart. If you want to try and attract a big name business, you have to find ways to work with them," he said.
Debate on TIF growing
Ald. Raes said he relies on the recommendation of city staff when it comes to economic incentives, as they are educated, trained and experts in the field. He said he does not usually meet with the developers, but did call Genesis staffers with questions about the proposed development after he initially voted against TIF for the medical campus.
Ald. Raes said the debate going on now about TIF is more than he has seen in the 10 years he has been on the city council, and he welcomes it from fellow aldermen and the public.
"I couldn't be happier," Ald. Liddell said about residents who are speaking up, such as the Lazenbys and Ms. O'Neill. "I am glad some people are actually involved.... They help me to feel I am not out there on an island. There are other people involved in researching this as well."
Ms. Lazenby said they will continue to contact aldermen, speak at council meetings, research TIF districts and inform others.
Ms. O'Neill said getting a TIF proposal defeated would be a major victory.
"But if both pass, I think maybe they will go away with the message it won't be a piece of cake next time, that they won't be able to just waltz in and pass these through with no opposition. They will realize we will be back and we will be stronger and there will be more," she said.
Moline TIF districts
Moline has eight Tax Increment Finance districts, four of which were created in the past three years. Two additional TIF districts are under consideration -- one for a Genesis Medical Center development is scheduled for a city council vote Tuesday and a vote on one for SouthPark Mall is postponed until April 2013.
The following information is from Moline's 2011 Annual TIF reports filed with the Illinois Comptroller's Office, available online at comptrollerconnect.ioc.state.il.us
TIF 1, most of downtown Moline
Designated: Dec. 16, 1986
TIF base net assessed value: $27.1 million
2011 Equalized assessed value: $49.9 million
2011 TIF revenue: $3.6 million (includes sales taxes and interest)
2011 expenditures: $4.9 million
Ending TIF balance: ($8.01 million)
TIF 2, One Moline Place
Designated: Oct. 27, 1998
TIF base net assessed value: $34,809
2011 EAV: $2.35 million
2011 TIF revenue: $194,040
2011 expenditures: $2.73 million
Ending TIF balance: ($3.2 million)
TIF 3, Old Moline High School Lofts
Designated: April 13, 2004
TIF base net value: $376,088
2011 EAV: $948,763
2011 TIF revenue: $53,589
2011 expenditures: $50,374
Ending TIF balance: $4,354
TIF 4, Autumn Trails
Designated: September 27, 2005
TIF base net value: $101,494
2011 EAV: $2.39 million
2011 TIF revenue: $192,600
2011 expenditures: $189,590
Ending TIF balance: $136,838
TIF 5, KONE Centre
Designated: Feb. 10, 2009
TIF base net value: $171,939
2011 EAV: $174,203 (Construction on KONE Centre was completed this summer)
2011 TIF revenue: $9,319
2011 expenditures: None. But there was a negative starting balance of $1,405.
Ending TIF balance: $7,914
TIF 6, Moline Place Phase II and III
Designated: Feb. 9, 2010
TIF base net value: $161,454
2011 EAV: $362,996
2011 TIF revenue: $0
2011 expenditures: $0
Ending TIF balance: ($35,212) (This TIF has a negative balance at start of year. This is city-owned property that used to hold the nurses dormitory. The city worked with the former developer's bank, got the building demolished and is hoping to sell the land to a new developer.)
TIF 7, Moline airport business park (former proposed Case Creek Trails office/hotel/business park site)
Designated: June 21, 2011
TIF base net value: $173,858
2011 EAV: $13,910
2011 TIF revenue: $6.67 million (bond proceeds and interest, not property tax increment)
2011 expenditures: $889,551
Ending TIF balance: $5.78 million
TIF 8, Route 6 and 150
Designated by the Moline City Council Nov. 27.