SYCAMORE - The Sycamore City Council on Tuesday gave a full go-ahead for city staff to close a 20-year tax increment finance district nearly two years early, after heralding its success while making plans to consider opening a second TIF district.
“Congratulations to the management and to the city,” Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Stowe said. “We’ve all heard horror stories of TIF districts in different areas, and I guess Sycamore finally did something right, or shows people how things are supposed to be done right.”
According to city documents, Sycamore’s TIF district opened in August 2000 and, following a 7-0 Tuesday vote by the council, will close on Dec. 31, 2021, a little shy of two years earlier than its anticipated Dec. 31, 2024 shutter date, Acting City Manager Maggie Peck said.
“This is a good example of we did everything we wanted to do,” Peck said. “All the projects were completed and we’re ready to close it. This is one of those examples when a tool is used for right, for redevelopment, and doing the right thing, it can be a powerful tool.”
After the TIF is closed, the DeKalb County Treasurer will be asked to release funds back to the taxing bodies that were collected this year, based on the allocation of the current property tax rate, Peck said.
According to city officials, the city’s first TIF district has brought about the following in the past 21 years: removal of hazardous material and creating an engineered barrier at Harvester Square, removal of the raised platform at Harvester Square; a public and private partnership with Auto Meter for parking lot improvements; development at Blumen Gardens, including a parking lot, work on the HVAC system and weatherizing and improving accessibility to the local garden and event center’s sales area; a watermain replacement on Park Avenue and renovation of the Train Depot.
The city of Sycamore doesn’t plan to end its TIF activity when the district is closed, however.
Also in a Tuesday vote, the council approved, 7-0, to continue its feasibility study with a St. Louis-based contractor who proposed the creation of a new TIF district, this time on the city’s north side, Peck said.
The $29,000 contract for a feasibility study done by PGAV Planners, the same contractor that the Sycamore city officials used when the first TIF district was created in 2000, was initially approved in July. According to Sycamore city documents, the proposed area for the TIF district includes properties along portions of North Cross Street, Lucas Street to North Avenue and one block over Main to Page Street.
According to the Illinois TIF Act, municipalities and taxing bodies can create a TIF district over a specified geographic area. At the time the TIF is created, the value of property in the area is established as the “base” amount, and taxes paid on that amount continue to go to taxing bodies as normal.
Over time, as development occurs and property values rise, the city collects the additional property tax revenue created from new development and increased property values, known as increment, which must then be invested back into the area for redevelopment. The money can go toward fixing blighted areas and paying for infrastructure, the costs of jobs related to the TIF district, surveys, environmental reviews needed for development and more.