Land Swap is No Mystery: Here Comes TIF

A few days ago I was having an email conversation with a friend, who asked me what I thought of the school district’s proposed land swap deal that would put developer Shodeen next to Huntley Middle School. Here is how I responded, in part:

At this point I am suspicious that a South Fourth TIF plan might still be in the works. Probably both the school district and Shodeen would love to be in a TIF.

And in today’s paper, I see this.

At Monday’s meeting, City Manager Mark Biernacki said the DeKalb City Council will be presented with a report by the end of 2012 on whether certain areas of the city should be designated as tax increment financing districts.

The goal of the districts is to encourage redevelopment in blighted areas, and Biernacki identified three possible district locations. Those are along South Fourth Street, past Taylor Street toward Huntley Middle School; the apartments in and around Greek Row; and parts of Sycamore Road near Hopkins Park.

So there it is, folks. Your fair city and your even fairer school district have this new TIF thing worked out already.

3 thoughts on “Land Swap is No Mystery: Here Comes TIF”

  1. As one on the school district financial advisory committee, I hardly feel as if the district has this “new TIF thing worked out already”. Whether or not the administration would agree, I do not know, or whether all the board would agree, I doubt. At the least, I am one person questioning the validity of the land swap for starters, and certainly have significant reservations about ANY new TIF districts in DeKalb, especially if directed by the current mayor/council and/or city manager.

    So far, DeKalb TIFs have managed to increase the cost of education by withholding increases in equalized assessed valuation (EAV) for far too many years, even with so-called “make whole” agreements. While parts of DeKalb (and Malta and Cortland for that matter) could theoretically benefit from TIF, historically TIF has been handled so poorly in DeKalb that it becomes questionable whether we are collectively better off due to TIF.

    The proposed land swap, especially because of the instability of land developers and the economy these days, may or may not actually help to increase EAV.

    So far, there is no guarantee in the language of the land swap which would assure development in DeKalb/District 428 with subsequent increased EAV/revenue to the schools.

    Although some on the 428 board were upset when Malta would not sign an intergovernmental agreement regarding impact fees prior to passage of the $110 million schools referendum a few years back, and subsequent to which the board located the new four section elementary school in Cortland, the new board would do well to take notice of the agreement Malta came to with the developer of Prairie Springs subdivision. As it happened, that developer went bust, and surety bonds which were part of the agreement paid for work the developer could not complete. A smart move on Malta’s part.

    Something similar in the way of a guarantee should be included in any and all agreements between the school district and developers.

    Increased EAV must be assured if public funds or equity (land swap) are to be involved.

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