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Redevelopment plans for 280-acre site could affect Kirby School D140

On the late afternoon of April 17, Tinley Park officials weighed in on the progress of a Tax Increment Financing district, which may potentially impact development proposals for the former site of the Tinley Park Mental Health Center.

A TIF serves as an economic redevelopment tool, which freezes the tax base to allow new dollars generated to pay for qualifying improvements. The Village of Tinley Park called the Joint Review Board meeting as part of its annual review of TIF districts.

Representatives from the Tinley Park-Park District, Tinley Park Community Consolidated School District 146 and Summit Hill School District 161 attended the meeting to voice concerns and understand how they would be affected by the plans for the 280-acre property.

“The Village is currently in the master planning process,” Village Treasurer Brad Bettenhausen said. “The Village continues to have interest in the site. State of Illinois Central Management Services is in the process of obtaining updated appraisals of the property. Due to the age of prior efforts, they are resoliciting other state departments and agencies for possible interest in the site.”

On April 12, the Village, alongside Chicago-based planning firm Farr Associates and consultant S.B. Friedman, held a community forum to showcase ideas of what could be done to that area. Thomas J. Martelli, Board President of Kirby School District 140 – who attended last week's meeting – said potential plans for a new school or single-family residential homes raises some concerns, as they could drive District 140 to increase taxes for current property owners.

Martelli said he wants to know if there are other options, and he looked to a previous instance where a TIF that could have impacted the school district but instead was alleviated.

“They didn’t freeze [our tax base],” he said. “We were able to collect the taxes from the TIF district.”

Village Attorney Tom Bayer added what happened then was a surplus revenue agreement may have been created with the municipality, which the TIF was established.

“A municipality can enter into a surplus revenue agreement,” he said. “What that basically says is that even though a municipality is entitled to the entire incremental revenue from the TIF, they can designate a portion of that – if they so choose – as surplus revenue, which means when collected each year, it’s given back to all the taxing districts pro-rata based on their proportionate share of the tax bill. With school districts typically having the lion’s share of the tax rate, they would get the lion’s share of that return of surplus revenue declaration.”

Typically, such a measure requires the Village Board to negotiate an arrangement as a set amount or in tiers. If a project within the TIF district is assisted with incremental dollars — whether directly or through the municipality building infrastructure that other would have been built by that development — there is a plan in place to offset the cost of educating new students. That money is extended from Village’s TIF budget, which includes line items to cover new student reimbursements.

“It does reduce the amount of incremental revenue that’s available for a private development to go forward and to be used as an incentive,” Bayer said. “There’s a balancing between how much we can declare a surplus and how much we need to keep in order to have a proper incentive so that development will occur.”

Established in July 2015, the TIF district of the site in question includes north of 175th Street and south of 183rd Street. It moves west to east, extending to 80th Avenue and portions of Oak Park and Harlem avenues. It also involves the right-of-way for 183rd Street.

Since the last time the Joint Review Board met, a new development has come on line within the TIF district. Porter Place, a newly constructed memory care facility, opened on the corner of 179th Street and Harlem Avenue.

“[We] haven’t seen that hit the tax rolls yet,” Bettenhausen said.

To date, the Village has not generated any incremental dollars. The tax base is frozen at roughly $13.8 million.

“In 2015 tax year, the [equalized assessed valuation] was $13.5 million, so it was slightly below the frozen base,” Bettenhausen said. “We’re hoping that 2015 represents the bottom of the drop in property tax values following the recession and that … property values would finally stabilize as we start to move forward.”

Bettenhausen said the TIF could see incremental dollars generated as early as 2018 when the 2017 tax rolls come in. On Wednesday, May 10, the Village will hold its final meeting to present the proposed master plan for the mental health center site.

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