by Susan O’Neill
MAPLE PARK—The village of Maple Park will hold a second informational public meeting to discuss the Village Board’s proposed TIF District from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22. This meeting will further define the proposed boundaries of the district. The first public meeting to discuss the TIF was held on Aug. 16.
Rationale for TIF District
The Village Board introduced the idea of a TIF District as an option for raising capital to pay for infrastructure improvements within the village, after a referendum to continue property taxes at their current level failed in April. An earlier referendum approved by Maple Park residents in 1997 for a capital bond issue to pay for the village’s sewer system is set to expire this year, resulting in a decrease in property taxes of 33 percent, or $90,000, according to a 2010 Austin Meade Financial Report.
The April referendum asked to continue taxing residents at the higher level. The additional funding was meant to finance public improvements to the village.
“We’re a blighted area,” Village President Kathy Curtis said. “We have several millions of dollars of infrastructure needs. There are no revenue streams to support a bond.”
Trustee Terry Borg said that in addition to the referendum, trustees looked at Special Service Areas, but with the current economy, that was no longer an option.
“It came down to money,” he said.
He referred to similar proposals for TIFs by other villages, such as Cortland and Sugar Grove.
“We’re all cash-strapped,” he said.
Curtis said the village’s master plan includes infrastructure improvements such as a new wastewater treatment plant, flood mitigation, street rehabilitation and upgrades and improvements to the storm water sewers.
She said that the lack of additional wastewater treatment capacity is a major obstacle for further development in Maple Park. As an example, she said that John Claire Ltd. can’t move forward with its development until a new wastewater plant is built.
The money that the TIF District would give the village access to would be used to finance these improvements.
How a TIF works
The establishment of a TIF District freezes the property taxes allocated to the taxing bodies at the level they were receiving at the beginning of the TIF. The amount of property taxes the taxing bodies, such as the school district, fire district, police department, township and others, would receive would remain constant for the life of the TIF.
According to Borg, the incremental increases in the property taxes generated by the increased value of the property due to development and initial improvements in the area would be used by the village to pay for the infrastructure improvements within the village, improving downtown Maple Park and helping business people to reinvest in their businesses. The idea is that this would also stimulate further commercial, industrial and residential development and improvements.
However, Curtis and Borg both said that the village does not want to harm the other taxing bodies, and board members are obtaining advice from attorney Herb Klein on how the village might share the incremental increase in taxes with the school, fire and library districts.
The boundaries of the current proposed district include all of the annexed property in and around the downtown area of Maple Park. According to Curtis, these boundaries were modified since the initial village meeting, based on feedback at that meeting. There is a lot of annexed property to the north and the south of the downtown area, she said. There are properties to the east and west that are owned by developers and have the potential for annexation, but are not annexed as of the current time, so they will not be included.
Taxing bodies’ reactions
Virgil Township Supervisor Judy (Probst) Yagen said that she does not feel that the TIF is in the best interest of the township, which services Maple Park, Virgil and the surrounding area.
“The development will increase the work of all the offices, and we’ll still have to provide services, but we won’t have the funds to pay for it,” she said.
The township includes the road district, the assessment office and general assistance, among others.
“The township barely has enough to meet the needs of the area now,” she said. “We (the township) have a good relationship with the (Village) Board, but this TIF District has gotten so big, we’ve got concerns.
“All that money will go to the village, and they will disperse it as they see fit. I don’t feel it’s equitable,” she said.
Fire Chief Kevin Peterson said that although he doesn’t think the Fire District will benefit from the TIF District, he plans to go to Thursday’s meeting to find out more about how it will work.
“I need to get myself more education,” he said.
Kaneland School District Superintendent Jeff Schuler was not available at press time.
After the informational meeting on Thursday, Sept. 22, there will be another couple of public hearings, Borg said. Curtis added that the village officials will also convene a joint review board, which includes all of the taxing bodies that receive their funding through village property taxes. She said the time frame for the creation of the TIF District is by the end of this year.