Most Oak Park taxing bodies plan to capture TIF funds

As Madison St. and downtown TIFs near expiration, taxing bodies prepare to absorb increased EAV

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By STACEY SHERIDAN and MICHAEL ROMAIN

Staff Reporters

With the impending expiration of the Madison Street and downtown Oak Park Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, almost all Oak Park taxing entities are planning for additional property tax revenue that has until now been diverted for economic development efforts.

However, the Village of Oak Park, citing fiscal discipline, does not plan to capture funds from the TIFs, opting to keep the village tax levy increase to 3 percent. 

"We kind of laid that math out for the village board, but the entire budget that, as the manager, I'm recommending is at the 3 percent and does not capture the $114 million in new EAV [equalized assessed value] from the TIFs coming into the big picture," said  Cara Pavlicek, Oak Park village manager.   

According to the recommended 2020 village budget, if the village government did choose to capture the $114 million in new EAV, the funds would "generate an additional $2.4 million, or an additional $1.4 million over the requested capped 3 percent property tax levy which equates to a 7 percent levy increase," said Pavlicek.

Fiscal discipline is the motivation for the village government to not capture the increase, she said.  

"I think they've been pretty clear that the purpose of economic development in growing the EAV was then that we, shall we say, keep the amount of money we're collecting the same, so the pie should stay the same and the slice of everyone's pie – in other words, each homeowner's tax bill  – is a little smaller," said Pavlicek.

Village government appears to be the only taxing body that is prescribing to that fiscal recipe. Five other major taxing bodies all intend to capture a slice of the TIF fund pie. 

"I'm sure we're the only entity following the recipe and I'd bet money that we have more people yelling at us about our fiscal discipline than anyone else," the village manager said. "And I don't mean to sound a little bit bitter about it, but it is, it's interesting."

The Park District of Oak Park intends to capture approximately $315,000 from the TIFs. Parks staff also recommended raising its levy by 1.9 percent in addition to the TIF influx.

"We would also capture the funds from the expired TIF. The increased amount will equate to about $4 per $100,000 home value," said Diane Stanke, marketing and customer service director for the park district. "The 1.9 is actually lower than the two previous years, which we actually increased by 2.1 percent"

The park district already collects $400,000 annually in TIF rebates, bringing their TIF total to $715,000, according to Stanke.

"Of course we are good stewards of our tax dollars here and we always want to use our tax dollars as best we can to benefit our community, so we've come up with three different ways in which we're going to spend that $315,000 to benefit our community," said Stanke.

If the budget is adopted, funds will be used to offset the gradual rise in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, which Stanke said will cost the parks department about $160,000 annually.

The parks are also freezing program fees for the next two years, offering some monetary relief for participants. The TIF funds will compensate for the revenue lost from not raising fees.

Thirdly, the TIF funds will help subsidize the Clubhouse, its costly childcare program. "We're coming out with what we call a childcare discount program, where anyone with a household income of $100,000 or less will be eligible for this program. Depending on their income, they will get a break in the fee for our childcare program," said Stanke.

These are only staff recommendations. The parks budget for 2020 has not yet been adopted, so none of this has taken effect. 

The Oak Park Public Library plans to capture $690,000 in TIF revenue, according to Matt Fruth, library board president. The library intends to use the money to make computer system upgrades and to increase salaries of lower paid workers.

Unlike the parks department, the library does not have any income from fee-based programming. 

"One of the considerations that we have that is different than the village and the parks and the schools is that, I think, in terms of funding sources, we have, I think by and large, the largest reliance on property tax revenue as a portion of our revenues compared to everyone else," Fruth said. 

Both District 97 and District 200 also plan on capturing revenue from the expired TIF districts. 

Rob Grossi, D97's financial consultant, said that the district's 2019 tax levy will capture all of the available taxes from the expiring TIFs. The district stands to receive about $5.7 million from the expiration of the two TIFs and new taxable property. About $4.1 million will come from the expiration of the downtown TIF and about $1.2 million from the expiration of the Madison TIF. The remainder, roughly $376,000, will come from new taxable property. 

District 200 will capture around $800,000 of additional revenue as a result of the expiration of both TIFs, said Cyndi Sidor, the district's chief business officer. 

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Reader Comments

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Tom Clarkson  

Posted: November 26th, 2019 6:07 PM

True the incessant complaining goes nowhere. It also seems to me that having a number of well meaning civil discussions about all the bottom-up issues (qualifying income for subsidies, paper vs electronic, +1000 more) is probably not a practical solution to the much bigger problem. From what I can tell the various budgets and therefore tax burdens have grown to make Oak Park an outlier compared with similar communities and even the more affluent ones. It's easy to compare our property tax rates and our spending per person (schools, parks, libraries, etc.) to others that we should be on par with. While it may be intentional to be at the liberal end of the spectrum there comes a point when we are so uncompetitive for residency that it becomes very unhealthy. That's counterproductive for all agendas. As Dave Slade alludes to, the villagers on the boards don't want their legacy to be reducing services as they run for board seats to build things. So, we can't really count on them to rein it in. Trying to hold to 3% increases from bloated levels may be a start but is it an ineffective bandaid? It would be great to hear more data intensive, top-down tax policy discussions happening in the village somewhere where they can act on it. Can decisions be looked at through two lenses, equity AND economic health for the community?

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 11:40 PM

Jason Cohen Thank you for your reply and you are absolutely correct and I apologize for falling in to more of a complaining role instead of one that is willing to discuss topics. You are right, people do not discuss, they say how they feel. It may be that they have had enough of nothing changing, or it may be that they do not discuss. I hope going forward that I can become a person who can better propose ideas like you have explained

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 11:30 PM

@Ramona - Elected board members aren't held to higher standard because they aren't professionals in running a village, or a school board, or a park district. Elected members are a bunch of moms and dads who don't like a principal at their kids' school, or pissed them off because they aren't doing enough about equity. And these moms and dads have no idea how to navigate a multi-million dollar budget, or use what they have prudently, they just feel that they will make a difference, when in reality, this town is the same as it was 20 years ago, if not worse. And with property values stagnant or falling, property tax increases are the last thing property owners need. The last thing. I still want to know how I'm going to sell my 1500 sq ft house in the next several years with taxes on it over $10,000 per year.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 9:48 PM

@Jason...When you wrote " maybe it would be a good idea to not act like smug sanctimonious know it alls that often are only half right." I thought you were describing the Library board, the D97 board, the D200 board, etc. Hmmmm weird.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 9:45 PM

@ Jason. Yes, the methodology may not be the most streamlined and organized, but the same people who are pushing for lower taxes are the same who successfully got a slim majority of voters to vote "NO" to the pool referendum. Now that the high school is sitting on over $100 MILLION in cash, it appears they are ignoring the will of the voters and are marching forward with a new pool under the guise of a "facilties improvement" campaign. I'm confident the constituents who you seem to have issues with their attitudes and negativity, would act more professional if our elected officials reciprocated. Instead of being prudent and reasonable with taxpayer dollars, they vote to sweeten the pension for Mr. Noble with NO record of it in the meeting minutes, they go forward with a pool plan after voters clearly told them no, they are unwilling to give back a dime of TIF money, etc. etc. etc. Why aren't elected board members held to a higher standard?

Jason Cohen  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 8:29 PM

@Tommy, I bet if you asked people on the street how many would love to figure a way to lower property taxes about 100% of people would respond yes. Voting requires effort whereas an online petition requires almost none. The issue isn't that people won't do it. It's that the people involved are largely ignored by most of OP because they are seen as constantly complaining and generally acting like this town is the worst at everything it does. That attitude turns people off period. Instead of being friendly and open and maybe saying hey I wonder if we could ask people to opt out of getting a paper PDOP catalog or the child care thing sounds interesting but the cost might be high so could we look at lowering the amount to qualify or anything that resembles a discussion the responses are basically why should I care about anyone else kids and the PDOP is so stupid for sending a paper catalogs. All that's going to do is turn people off and make them not want to be involved. If the goal is to lower property taxes this ain't going to do it. The only way this happens in a heavily liberal town is to compromise and work together. I see none of that in most of these discussions. Be smart and gain positive momentum. I guarantee you nothing is going to happen if the message is always negative about everything.

Monica Sheehan  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 6:57 PM

Kitty, I thank you for your efforts to help curb excessive spending in our village. Rising taxes are negatively impacting all diversity and deflating property values. Thoughtful approaches and hard decisions are needed, rather than business as usual. The park district should consider communicating its program offerings in a more cost-effective and green way. Rather than sending out to all households magazine-length catalogs a few times a year, the park district could mail a postcard to let residents know that the new offerings are now posted online and hard copies could be available for pickup at locations, such as Ridgeland Commons and the park district office.In addition, a mailed copy could be sent to anyone requesting it.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 5:43 PM

Nick Polido I am very tired of hearing the word equity. That is the most used word along with useless programs created each year at a very expensive price tag and yet there has been no change. There are plenty of real World examples on how to bring equity without creating high priced so called experts who slide into a roll, and then stay there for 20 years or move on to some other place who is willing to pay more. No one it appears wants to really address equity and you are blaming the rich at the same time seem to be willing to spend your money and the riches money on programs that have continually never produced any positive results which means bringing up the success rate and not going in the opposite direction

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 5:39 PM

Jason Cohen you are probably really good with what to expect back when you advertise so you may be surprised that a Village of 55 thousand has a very low turn out when there are elections. Now since people know when the elections are and have been going on, and you compare that to a relative very short promotion of a petition list, what would you really expect percentage wise would be the return comparing it with a few thousand who vote. That is why the signature list is low on the amount of people

Jason Cohen  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 5:13 PM

@Corey, best of luck in your battle against that darn PDOP paper catalog. I am sure you and Kitty will have this solved soon enough.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 5:10 PM

The lack of emotional intelligence by the people desperately trying to get us to work together to push for tax savings is really comical. It's really like watching a bunch of children. If the goal is to have the community come together and actually look at ways to cut spending then maybe it would be a good idea to not act like smug sanctimonious know it alls that often are only half right. Instead of criticizing everyone and everything that goes against your precious ideas of where the village should and shouldn't spend money why not be a little nicer and friendlier instead of attacking every little thing. I think most would love to see taxes lower but instead of trying to unify around this idea it's all about being right and criticizing everything. There's no room for any disagreement at all. Best of luck on your efforts. This is one taxpayer that would rather be around positive people trying to solve these issues then just sign on to something with people I don't really want to be around. If your goal is truly to work to save money and want that to actually succeed then you need more than just your little group of angry people. There are over 55k people in this village and it's a struggle to get even 800 people to sign a petition which should tell you something and it's not that people don't want lower taxes that for sure.

Natalie Rauch Kelly  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 3:50 PM

@ Jahred, regarding what Kitty said, they even use the word "subsidize" in the article, if you had noticed. This is not about schooling, this is about "subsidized" child care for households making up to $99,999/yr. "Thirdly, the TIF funds will help subsidize the Clubhouse, its costly childcare program. "We're coming out with what we call a childcare discount program, where anyone with a household income of $100,000 or less will be eligible for this program. Depending on their income, they will get a break in the fee for our childcare program," said Stanke.

Nick Polido  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 12:33 PM

A twitter post from D97 very own : Rob Breymaier ?@rbreymaier Follow Follow @rbreymaier "If you want to see fake concern for equity in action, join a local government. You'll get emails only from the wealthiest residents complaining taxes are making the community less affordable. Of course, they only want to cut things that are targeted to improve equity."

Jahred Adelman  

Posted: November 25th, 2019 11:50 AM

"Those in OP who don't have children have yet one more opportunity to subsidize those in OP who do have children." That statement is saying that people in the village who don't have children shouldn't be paying for (ie subsidizing) schools for those who do. I was simply commenting on what was written. Reread your statement, Kitty. If you want to complain about taxes being too high, fine, go ahead (I can argue about that with you separately). But you complained about paying for schools. Not that they spend too much. Just that you don't want to "subsidize" them.

Corey Gimbel  

Posted: November 24th, 2019 4:22 PM

Now for Jason. The Village could, ohhh I dunno, create an Oak Park website and give everyone who lives within the boundaries of the Village an email address. That's certainly within their technical and lawful powers. Ohhh wait they already have a village website.............. H'mmmm what to do what to do? Well not everyone has internet access you say. Maybe that could be provided at the Oak Park Public Library for free. Ohhh wait............ it is already. Silly me. Ummmmm errrr, uhhhh, I do have a question for you though. Do you think the fees the PDOP cover what it spends? Just curious.....

Corey Gimbel from Oak Park  

Posted: November 24th, 2019 4:15 PM

First @ Jahred you said, "OK, so as I read this," So you're stating an opinion of what you think you read. I, obviously, didn't read the same things that you did into the comments that Ms. Conklin wrote. You seem to have extrapolated her modulated suggestions into some apocalyptic vision of a future dystopian Oak Park where most of us have moved away, leaving it to you and a few other hangers on who, while y'all can't afford to stay, must. In that future vision of yours things are on a downward, swirling the bowl spiral. Your thoughts are induced by, I dunno, lack of sleep due to anxiety over how you're going to pay your outrageous real estate taxes going forward. Of course those taxes will pay for your child's schooling and after school entertainments (How much is the cost per student at an Oak Park grammar school these days anyway? Mid teens I'd have to guess. Sorta like a great private school.) I think the police and fire departments will continue to function as well as the libraries, water and sewer departments and the village and township governments. I think that your family will be well tended to even if some of Ms. Conklin's suggested money saving ideas are implemented. More coming for Jason................

Kitty Conklin from Oak park  

Posted: November 23rd, 2019 6:36 PM

Jahred, may I suggest you reread my comments And not extrapolate into 28 other directions. ? My hope in this village is to break the cycle that causes people like you and me from having to file annual property tax appeals in hopes of controlling our tax bills. You've filed an appeal each of the last 2 years. I'd like you/your family to have higher disposable income that you can spend on your son. And subsidizing $100,000 earners is not the way to break the cycle.

Kitty Conklin from Oak Park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2019 11:46 AM

Jason Cohen, Easy. They could actually talk to the Village who has thousands of our emails. Then ask the village to send a mass email to us, asking if our email can be shared with the PD. Then the PD loads our emails and gives us an opportunity to opt out of paper. They critical piece is that 2 governmental units work together, specifically to cut costs.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: November 22nd, 2019 10:46 AM

@Kitty, how exactly do you expect them to email everyone when they don't actually have everyone's email? They have an electronic of the catalog so feel free to view it online. The park district actually brings in fees so making sure everyone can see what they offer makes a ton of sense. It's called marketing. Plenty of adults use the PDOP services so the price freeze helps everyone in the community.

Jahred Adelman  

Posted: November 22nd, 2019 5:55 AM

OK, so as I read this, Kitty thinks that Oak Park should not provide any schools or any services for children. Otherwise she will be subsidizing my son when he goes to public school in a few years. I guess she doesn't want Oak Park to pay for the fire department - her house never caught fire, so why should she subsidize that service? Let the house burn! And she's never walked on every sidewalk in the village, so why subsidize those that she hasn't used? They should be dirt roads, obviously.

Kitty Conklin from Oak Park  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 8:19 PM

Karen McMillan, I don't need a mass of paper to arrive on my doorstep. An email with a link to an electronic version is much more cost efficient. This is the 21st century! In any case, a catalog doesn't eliminate ongoing opportunities to subsidize child care.

Natalie Rauch Kelly  

Posted: November 20th, 2019 12:27 PM

""Of course we are good stewards of our tax dollars here and we always want to use our tax dollars as best we can to benefit our community, so we've come up with three different ways in which we're going to spend that $315,000 to benefit our community," said Stanke." I have a better idea: give it back to us. It's not free money.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: November 19th, 2019 10:59 PM

Tom, both Mr. Fruth and his incompetent peers at the PDOP think budgets are for losers. At best, a budget to them is a mere suggestion ... generally to be ignored.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 19th, 2019 8:04 PM

If Matt Fruth is not up to the job of running the Library on the money he was already getting from the taxpayers, then we need to consider replacing him with a manager who can. If the Park District wants to become a free daycare, there should be a referendum on that. It takes zero skills to run organizations as if you have a blank check, and clearly our organizations have zero skills in budgeting.

Karen Mcmillin  

Posted: November 19th, 2019 5:28 PM

There are a very large number of opportunities for adults provided by our Park District every year. Take a look at the catalogue that will soon be arriving on your doorstep!

Kitty Conklin from Oak Park  

Posted: November 19th, 2019 3:07 PM

If I read the Park District correctly, those in OP who don't have children have yet one more opportunity to subsidize those in OP who do have children. Hmmmm. Where's the equity in that idea?

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