DeKalb postpones acting on TIF

City Council will wait until March as talks with D-428 continue

DeKALB – City of DeKalb leaders are postponing action on the South Fourth Street tax increment financing district until March as they discuss the impacts of the economic incentive zone with DeKalb School District 428 officials.

During the DeKalb City Council meeting Monday night, Economic Development Coordinator Jennifer Diedrich explained the council needed to receive and file three ordinances that would establish the TIF district because the law requires the council do so within 90 days of the public hearing, which began in August. The council discussed the issue again in December. Alderman unanimously voted to file the ordinances.

She then asked them to postpone action on the ordinances until next month. Diedrich explained after the Dec. 10 meeting when the council last delayed action on the district, which would run from Taylor Avenue to Fairlane Avenue, the city and school district formed a task force that is discussing the TIF district’s effects.

Aldermen unanimously voted to delay approving or rejecting the ordinances until March 10.

Tax increment financing enables municipalities to spur development in blighted areas by freezing the property tax revenues that local governments receive for as long as 23 years. As property values in the district increase, the increased property taxes are funneled to a special account and used for improvements. 

District 428 officials have been opposed to creating the TIF district. Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Andrea Gorla told the Daily Chronicle as the group continues to meet, she expects they will discuss things such as an agreement that states the city would give some of the TIF funds to the school district.

“I think there’s a meeting of the minds somewhere in the discussion,” Gorla said. “It may not be in the exact form the TIF is currently in or in some kind of sharing agreement.” 

First Ward Alderman David Jacobson asked if the city could curtail the length the district is open and limit its purpose in order to assure the tool is not abused. City Attorney Dean Frieders said some intergovernmental agreement between the city and District 428 constraining the purpose of the TIF district is anticipated, adding the plan did not need to be amended until it is up for final approval.

Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor said limiting what the length or entire focus of the TIF district before it is established would be premature. Mayor John Rey echoed Naylor’s sentiments. 

“The initial focus of the South Fourth Street TIF may be focused on a specific project, but the breadth of future potential may not be fully known until that project is completed and there may be further activity or projects that come to light,” Rey said.

Jacobson said Naylor’s and Rey’s views were “exactly the misuse” of tax increment financing he wanted to avoid and unsuccessfully tried to change his vote on filing the ordinances from a “yes” to a “no.”