Oak Park TIF districts collected $233 million since inception

Downtown district one of the biggest in suburban Cook County in 2018

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough has released her annual report on Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts for 2018 and identified Oak Park's Downtown as having amongst the highest revenues in suburban Chicago.

The downtown TIF collected $11.8 million in 2018, making it the seventh most lucrative TIF district outside the city of Chicago.

TIF districts are special taxation districts where property taxes are used for various purposes, including beautification and financial incentives to encourage business development.

The property taxes that typically go to schools, parks and municipalities are frozen the year the TIF is established. As the assessments on those properties increase, the incremental revenue goes into a special fund and can only be expended within the boundaries of the TIF district.

The downtown TIF in Oak Park was established in 1983 and expired in 2018. Over the 35-year life of the TIF, that fund generated $193.4 million in revenue.

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said the downtown TIF was one of the largest because it was a "mature TIF" district and the village was "very strategic in trying to grow the downtown."

Developments like the Vantage and Emerson high-rise apartment buildings have helped grow the fund, she said.

She said the large figure is "positive news, because the purpose of a TIF is to take an area where the property tax base is declining and allows the village to freeze the taxes and take that new increment and invest it."

"It's a very strategic process," she said.

Pavlicek said that much the funds generated by the downtown TIF already have been flowing back to school and park districts and other taxing bodies because of a settlement agreement struck between the village and the other taxing bodies in 2011.

Oak Park's Madison Street TIF District, which also expired in 2018, generated $2.7 million last year, down 7 percent from the previous year, according to the report. That TIF, which was established in 1995, generated $40.3 million in revenue during its 23-year life.

River Forest also has two TIF districts, one along Madison Street and another on North Avenue.

River Forest's Madison Street TIF, which was created in 2016, generated $148,113 in tax year 2018. That TIF has generated $205,000 since its inception.

The North Avenue TIF in River Forest was established in 2018, so the district is too new to have generated any revenue.

Overall, the 138 TIF districts in Cook County generated $1.2 billion in tax year 2018, according to Yarbrough. Her report notes that Cook County TIF districts saw a 17.4 percent increase over the previous year.

"TIF revenue has increased 27.4 percent in the city of Chicago and decreased 1.6 percent in the suburbs compared to last year," Yarbrough said in the report.

* This story was updated to correct the headline which incorrectly stated how much TIF districts in Oak Park collected last year.

tim@oakpark.com

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