Aledo begins TIF amendment process

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
The city of Aledo held an informational meeting about amending the city's Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment plan and project. From left are city council members Randy Mattson, Rich Maynard, Robert Rillie, Nancy Hill, financial consultant and City Attorney Mark Walton.

Thursday night, Jan. 6, 2011, a crowd of around 35 attended the first in a series of meetings scheduled to amend the city of Aledo's Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan and Project. The task of revising the plan and project was handed over to a TIF consultant firm, Ehlers and Associates, Inc., several months ago, with a draft amendment dated October 2010 brought forward at Thursday night's meeting for discussion at an informational meeting.

Nancy Hill, financial advisor from Ehlers was at the meeting to answer questions and present information on the proposed amendment.

The city formed a Tax Increment Financing Project area in 1986 to bring about economic development in the city's industrial area and its downtown area.

Hill said that Aledo was one of the first communities in Illinois to plug into the new program to bring about economic development in the city.

Around 28 percent of the city's equalized assessed valuation was included in the TIF district, with any additional tax increases within that area going into a pot to help finance development thereafter for the next 23 years. Some of the TIF funds could also be used to help pay for city infrastructure.

The meeting started out with an explanation of what TIF legislation was supposed to accomplish, as well as what the city fathers decided to focus on back in 1986.

Aledo City Attorney Mark Walton said the reason for amending Aledo's TIF plan and project was because the 1986 plan was "woefully out of date."

He also said that since he was hired as the city attorney in 2007, the 1986 plan "does not reflect what the city is seeking to do with the TIF district, and what it is (or has been) actually doing."

The process of amending TIF plans is prescribed by Illinois statutes. Besides this initial informational meeting, the city must hold a meeting with all other taxing bodies within the TIF district (called a Joint Review Board) and hold a public hearing on the proposed amendment.

Aledo became involved with TIF during a time when city retail sales were declining and the city's equalized assessed valuation was in decline. The initial plan's goal was to "eliminate or counterbalance the causes of economic stagnation, encourage private investment and restore and enhance the tax base of the taxing districts in this project area."

Hill pointed out that "municipalities have a responsibility to try to encourage economic development."

She called TIF "a popular tool in Illinois."

The 23-year timeframe for TIF was expanded in 2002 by the Illinois General Assembly to allow TIFs an extension for a total of 35 years. In 2005 the city of Aledo codified and adopted an ordinance to extend its TIF for 35 years, or until 2021.

One thing Aledo did within the timeframe of 2002 and 2005 was to come up with a comprehensive plan. "The amendment incorporates changes made to the TIF act and incorporates objectives and goals from the city's comprehensive plan," said Walton.

Comments from some audience members and aldermen brought out some interesting points on the amendment:

• Could the EAV be changed to increases from 2011, rather than 1986?

• The amendment incorporates the language giving the city the ability to issue General Obligation Bonds for TIF projects.

• If another TIF adjacent to the current TIF area was created, money from the current TIF could be transfered to the new TIF;

• The TIF boundaries will not change, nor will the length of time be extended beyond 2021.

Alderman Robert Rillie pointed out "I don't know of any municipality in Illinois that is willing to issue general obligation bonds to fund a TIF project."