It’s become something of a smoking gun in the ongoing dispute among the Oak Park school districts and the village concerning tax increment finance payouts.

The so-called “missing” spreadsheet to help calculate TIF payments stemming from a 2003 intergovernmental agreement has surfaced.

District 97, the elementary school district, has maintained that it doesn’t have the documents on file. District 200, Oak Park and River Forest High School, however, says it has had the document since those early discussions about the 2003 carve-out settlement. Cheryl Witham, District 200’s chief financial officer, said the high school has sent a copy of that document back to the elementary school district. She added that the document contained an Excel spreadsheet with various calculations in it.

Witham said this document is actually Dist. 97’s original spreadsheet and that she’s had a copy of it on file. On Monday, Constance Collins, superintendent of Dist. 97, referred questions about the document to the board president and district finance chief. Collins, though, did not dispute that the document was sent but said she needed to talk to the district’s finance chief to “make sure we’re talking about the same documents.”

Peter Traczyk, the District 97 board president, said Monday he’d never seen this particular spreadsheet before but confirmed that another board member had. Traczyk, though, explained that this document doesn’t help settle the dispute.

Since late 2008, the village and two school districts have tried to interpret “poorly-worded” footnotes in the 2003 agreement that were put in place by previous boards in the event there was an excess in EAV (Equalized Assessed Value) of the subject properties. Traczyk noted that the value of homes in Oak Park grew significantly after the 2003 agreement was signed, far more than what was originally projected. But what’s missing in those footnotes, he stressed, is any explanation or formula to calculate what exact amount to pay out.

Traczyk insists the document from the high school addresses other aspects of the agreement but not the footnotes directly.

“While it’s nice to have it doesn’t help with the issue at hand,” he said.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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