With the property tax portion of the village’s tax increment financing district set to expire Dec. 31, the River Forest Village Board of Trustees took the first steps Monday night in deciding how to proceed.

Village President John Rigas said the board needs to look both at what specifically needs to be done as the real estate TIF expires, and what if any projects should be funded with the remaining sales tax TIF. The sales tax TIF expires in December 2013.

Any such projects would by law need to be irrevocably contracted for at the time of the real estate TIF expiration, Chuck Biondo, the village’s bond adviser and former administrator, told trustees Monday night.

The village board will also consider whether to take steps to end the sale tax portion of the TIF early. While the sales tax portion of the TIF is in effect, the village is required to dedicate all sales taxes and real estate taxes collected with the TIF district solely for projects in the district’s boundaries. Those boundaries are roughly from the el tracks to a block north of Lake Street, and from Harlem to Thatcher.

In return, the village is allowed to keep the state’s portion of sales tax revenue generated within the TIF, which is about $460,000 annually.

The basic question is whether the village should forgo about $1.8 million in states sales tax revenue between 2009 and 2013, in order to free up about $7.2 million in local sales and real estate taxes for village wide use.

“As Chuck was saying, we’ve got to evaluate whether that makes sense,” Rigas said. “Whether we’re willing to give up the state sales tax money in return for the ability to bring the village’s portion of the real estate TIF and sales tax TIF into general fund use.”

Biondo also told trustees that, under state law, any surplus TIF funds not so accounted for must be proportionally reimbursed to other local taxing bodies. In any event, local taxing bodies, including District 90, District 201 and the park district must be notified of the village’s plans so that the can take steps to “capture” the additional equalized assessed value, or EAV, of properties frozen under the TIF designation. A key part of that is being able to take the full EAV in 2011, without regard for tax caps otherwise in place.

Parking will be an issue

Rigas said the board’s planning and development committee, chaired by trustee Susan Conti, will be looking at potential needs that could be addressed with TIF funds. One possible need, he said, might be the development of additional parking in the Lake Street business corridor.

“The Lake Street portion of the corridor study will identify parking as an issue,” he said. Rigas added that such a major undertaking as a parking garage will not happen.

“I don’t think you’ll see any recommendation that the village take on a parking deck,” he said.

There’s also the possibility of upgrades to the Forest Preserve property north of Lake at Harlem. That area, Rigas noted, serves as the main entry to the village’s shopping district.

“It does affect the retail that’s there,” he said.

Whatever is decided, Rigas said Tuesday, the question is one that needs answering sooner rather than later. He said he expects a decision to be made by early September.

“It’s an issue that has to be front and center,” he said. “It has to happen fairly quickly.”

Parking adjudication to be critiqued

Rigas asked village staff to prepare a report on the operations of the 18-month-old parking adjudication program.

“How is this going, is this working the way it’s expected,” Rigas said. “We need to evaluate this concept and go from there.”

Village Administrator Steve Gutierrez said staff was prepared to do that. “We’ll provide a full report. The chief just drafted this,” Gutierrez said, referring to River Forest Police Chief Frank Limon.

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