Taxman the only clear winner in downtown committee's recommendations


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The exaggerated promises of higher taxes from a few dense developments have never had an impact on our real estate taxes, schools, etc. There are numerous studies that have proven that the additional costs to a municipality for these developments typically wipe out any increases. This kind of analysis benefits the developer, who is then welcomed by the community as a savior. Every developer plays this game. This very simple-minded argument is convincing to citizens and school districts, so they quickly buy into it?#34;witness Ade Onayemi's letter to the editor [New village leaders must be true to schools, Viewpoints, Oct. 12]; more will be coming shortly.

Quick fixes are very appealing. Unfortunately this thinking was all too easily bought into by the [superblock] steering committee which declined to give the The National Trust the opportunity to demonstrate a potentially greater increase in the tax base from instituting historic preservation principles along with strong, proven marketing programs. These have a better chance of preserving DTOP's "small town historic character," citizens' no. 2 concern, which the proposed steering committee plan ignores. We can have both preservation of DTOP's character and an increased tax base, but recent history in Oak Park is dismal when the choice comes down to the desires of citizens vs. developers and special interests.

Meaningful increases in our commercial tax base?#34;which is the issue?#34;will be realized when the village puts into place plans to upgrade all of our commercial districts and helps with strong marketing programs to assist the business community. Progress on the Roosevelt Road study has been excruciatingly slow.

The grand plan for Taxman's new, grand "Market Street development" will continue to siphon limited TIF resources?#34;and village staff?#34;that for 10 years have disproportionatley been allocated to real estate development vs. overall upgrading of the entire DTOP area. If the current board does not want to continue this misguided practice that "required" a 12-year TIF extension because of the "fair to poor" rating given by Crandall Arambula after $80 million in TIF spending, they need to engage in some serious thinking before voting on the steering committee recommendations?#34;which, by the way, are being made with very little public outreach.

The first 10 years of the DTOP TIF (1983-93) saw a 9 percent annual increase in the DTOP EAV despite a slow real estate market. But TIF dollars were used almost exclusively for public improvements that did spur private development. From 1993-2003, the shameful years of the village's real estate acquisitions/developments and massive private subsidies, the increase in EAV was only 4 percent?#34;this despite a boom in real estate values. This info can all be found in a review of the annual TIF reports that are sent to the state, but is conveniently distorted by the village in combining these increases to arrive at the overall 7-percent increase during the 20-year period. This should be evidence enough to be skeptical of any outside financial expert's predictions of massive increased tax revenues from more subsidies to a private developer. The only clear winner with the steering committee's recommendation is Taxman.

Kathryn Jonas
Oak Park

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