Geneva D-304 votes 6-1 to support 12-year TIF extension

Board President Larry Cabeen: ‘Ultimately, we will all benefit’

Geneva District 304 school board members Willard Hooks Jr. (left), Jackie Forbes, Board President Larry Cabeen and Superintendent Andy Barrett discuss the city’s request to support it in seeking a 12-year extension of an East Side tax increment finance district.

GENEVA – The Geneva School District 304 board voted 6-1 Monday in favor of supporting the city of Geneva’s resolution to seek a 12-year extension of the East State Street tax increment finance district.

This was the third meeting in which the board discussed the city’s request. A tax increment finance district – a TIF – is a development tool that local governments use to encourage development or redevelopment in blighted areas that would be too expensive to improve with private dollars alone.

The East State Street TIF2 was created in 2000. By state law, they last 23 years, so it would end this year. The city has asked all taxing districts within the TIF for letters of support to take to lawmakers and ask for legislation to extend the TIF so the Route 38 improvements can be completed.

The problem, officials said, was delays from the Illinois Department of Transportation to finish its portion of the work on the state road.

Board President Larry Cabeen said he would vote to support the city’s resolution “because I am an optimist.”

“Ultimately, we will all benefit,” Cabeen said.

Board member Jackie Forbes said she could see the value in improving the rest of the Route 38/East State Street corridor to attract new business because the portions already improved have attracted a variety of businesses.

“Once the roadway is in, then people can see. Right now, they can’t envision what it will look like in the future,” Forbes said. “I believe once that roadway project is done, people are going to say, ‘I want to move there now.’ ”

Forbes said it isn’t an issue of only the 12-year extension, but what comes after the improvements.

Board member Paul Radlinski, who cast the lone no vote, disagreed, saying it would take too long for the district to recoup tax revenue being diverted to the TIF district.

“That would mean a total of 35 years that the EAV [equalized assessed valuation] would be frozen at the year 2000,” Radlinski said. “And this district will miss out on that tax. The district will eventually start to recover the property tax revenues after 2035. But after putting 35 years in … it’s still going to take probably 10 to 12 years for the district to recoup money that we put in in those 35 years.”

The value of property when a TIF is established becomes the base amount. It continues to go to local taxing bodies, but any increase in the property’s value from redevelopment generates the tax increment that goes to the TIF fund for improvements, according to the Illinois TIF Association and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Radlinski said he did not think it was fair to the school district to ask it to wait that long for funds to continue to be diverted to the TIF instead of to the district.

He suggested a shorter extension, possibly five years or less, to allow the district to start benefiting from the increase in property values.

“I can’t support the city’s request the way it is currently set up,” Radlinski said.

City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins thanked the school board.

The city has received support from Geneva Township, Geneva Township Highway District, Waubonsee Community College, Kane County Forest Preserve District and Kane County, Dawkins said.

The last one is the Geneva Public Library District, which has it on the consent agenda at its meeting Thursday, Dawkins said.

With letters of support from each taxing district, State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, can take the city’s TIF extension request to lawmakers during the fall veto session, officials said.