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Five Fifths TIF wins vote at City Council

Still requires another vote in two weeks. Backers hope to resolve concerns of the District 65 school board by that time.

Bobby Burns.

Plans for a new tax increment financing district in parts of the 5th Ward advanced Monday night when the City Council voted 6-3 to approve introduction of required ordinances.

The approval came despite objections to the TIF from some 5th Ward residents. In addition, during public comment, two District 65 school board members read a letter from the board president voicing concern about the potential impact of the TIF on the schools.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) who has led efforts to create the TIF said the school board’s chief financial officer had voted in favor of the TIF during a joint review board hearing of all taxing bodies that would be affected by the TIF.

Burns said the idea of creating an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the school district surfaced later and that he hopes to work out terms of that agreement before the scheduled final Council vote on the TIF ordinances on Sept. 27.

A map showing the boundaries of the TIF district, before the planned removal of Ingraham Park, and indicating five areas that city staff believes could be redeveloped at some point during the TIF’s 23-year lifespan.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) praised Burns for his outreach and leadership on the issue and said she anticipates that this TIF, like others in Evanston, will be successful in helping improve its neighborhood.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said he generally doesn’t support tax increment financing districts as a tool for economic development, but that this particular TIF makes quite a bit of sense.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) cited concerns about the impact on the schools as her reason for opposing the TIF.

TIF districts capture any increase in property tax revenue generated in the district for the 23 year life of the TIF and let the city use those funds for infrastructure and other improvement projects in the neighborhood.

The schools and other taxing bodies continue to receive the same base level of tax revenue from the area during the life of the TIF and then, if the TIF is successful, see a substantial increase in taxes once the TIF district expires.

School districts commonly fear that new development in a TIF district will increase the number of students they have to serve. And the plans for the Five Fifths TIF call for making substantial payments to the schools to account for that.

Joining Kelly in voting against the TIF were Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th), who said there is substantial fear in the community that the TIF district would lead to gentrification, and Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) who didn’t speak during the TIF debate.

A resolution that would eventually result in excluding Ingraham Park, behind the Civic Center, from the TIF district was approved on the Council’s consent agenda.

A resolution making certain commitments about how the TIF will be implemented was held until Sept. 27 to give time to address the concerns raised by the District 65 board.

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