District 97 is considering a referendum next year because it is running yearly budget deficits and depleting the Education Fund. Before seeking a referendum, however, Dist. 97 has an obligation to the community to ask the Village of Oak Park to end the TIFs. Ending the TIFs in Oak Park will generate increased revenues for Dist. 97 that will put off into the future the need for a referendum. Dist. 97 could receive up to $2.1 million annually, based on the increased equalized assessed value (EAV) of the TIF areas, the most recent Dist. 97 tax rate, and taking into account the current carve-outs. This increased revenue is more than enough to cover the projected yearly deficits for several years into the future. Of course, the village may not agree to end the TIFs but the Dist. 97 board owes it to the community to try to increase revenues any way possible before raising property taxes.

The Oak Park TIFs are not needed. TIF districts were created in an effort to spur economic development of blighted areas. The Oak Park TIF areas certainly cannot be considered blighted areas. The EAV of the downtown TIF has increased from approximately $23 million to $65 million since 1983. This considerable increase in value shows that this area does not need the benefit of a TIF.

The village over this period of time has collected millions of dollars from the TIFs that are available, if needed, for economic development. There is no need to further provide TIF funds to the village for economic development projects at the expense of our schools and increased property taxes as a result of a referendum.

It is time to end the TIFs in order to provide needed funds to Dist. 97. The taxpayers/voters of Oak Park will not support a referendum unless they are assured that Dist. 97 has done everything possible to raise additional funds.

Victor Guarino
Oak Park

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