Thursday, October 18, 2007

Morris TIF

This is what we have to say about the Morris TIF:

The Morris TIF has been abused ever since it was created. When the TIF district was drawn, it included virtually every piece of non-residential property in the city limits. No way could all of that land qualify for TIF status, but the City Council approved it anyway. Why? So they could maximize the sales tax rebate from the state.

The Council then proceeded to use the TIF money for any number of projects of questionable relationship or benefit to the TIF district. For instance, TIF money was used to separate the storm and sanitary sewers in the residential neighborhoods. Yes, that indirectly benefited the TIF area, but was it within the spirit of the law?

As for funding the municipal building, that was not included in the original TIF plan. However, the city added it to the plan on the eve of the statute change in 1999. So, no matter your opinion of the city hall project, the city is legally free to proceed.

Morris is not unique in its abuse of TIF; citizens and taxing bodies across the state have been complaining for years about their local TIFs. The General Assembly has occasionally tinkered with the statutes; but there is an army of TIF lawyers advising the legislature, and then counseling municipalities, about how to maximize and leverage TIF income (and about creative ways to use the money once they get it.)

In conclusion, the City Council is going to use TIF funds to construct the new city hall. They have the money, they have designated it for this purpose, and they have the law and the power brokers on their side. Whether this is an appropriate use of TIF funds is irrelevant. Save your energy for the battle when they try to extend the life of the TIF beyond 2009.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city only designated $2.5 million for the city hall in 1999. Spending more than this on the city hall is illegal, unless approved by the joint review board, consisting of representatives of the taxing districts affected.

3:08 PM, October 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mayor has already approached the schools about extending TIF for twelve more years. The old saying applies: Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.

3:10 PM, October 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The City of Morris is already asking for a twelve year extension.

7:45 PM, October 18, 2007  
Anonymous Bob Elleson said...

The City of Morris 1999 redevelopment review plan allowed for $2,500,000.00 not $13,000,000.00 to construct a city hall. This difference comes before the joint review board for approval and is voted on by all the taxing bodies. It is my opinion that any amount spent over $2,500,000.00 falls after the 1999 TIF amendment. The project was put in place before the 1999 amendment by a week, but the necessary dollars were not. We are not talking about a few dollars adjusted for inflation either. Also every household in the TIF district must be notified by certified mail when the review board meets on this issue to have public hearings. All these TIF public safety devices were added in the 1999 amendment.

I’m not going to comment about your power broker argument because I think that’s irrelevant.

Whatever happens people have been educated in a small way about TIF abuse including myself.

love your blog, do not always agree but i enjoy your thoughts.

8:47 PM, October 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1999, the Illinois legislature enacted an amendment to the TIF law to end this abusive practice.

Section 11‑74.4‑3 (q)(4) of the TIF law says that:

... on and after November 1, 1999, redevelopment project COST shall not include the COST of constructing a new municipal public building principally used to provide offices, storage space, or conference facilities or vehicle storage, maintenance, or repair for administrative, public safety, or public works personnel....

8:59 PM, October 18, 2007  
Anonymous the rabbit said...


9:39 PM, October 18, 2007  
Blogger skepticalmorris said...

Sledge has posted a detailed response about TIF, including a link to the TIF statute.

Well done; but we still think the lawyers will find a way to carry out the plan. The TIF law seems to be full of loopholes, because while the General Assembly pays lip service to ending TIF abuse, what they usually do is just alter the tactics.

10:31 AM, October 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loopholes or not, legal use is legal use. You are beating the dead horse. The new city hall and police station has been talked about for years--well before Dick came into office. Just ask Bob Feeney. He was looking to the future, too. There is nothing wrong with looking to the future--it is the smart thing to do. Basic economics dictates it will be cheaper to build now than it will later. We need a new city hall. Some people want to complain about what a small town this is and accuse the residents of backward thinking on the one hand, and on the other rant about the people looking to the future. Can't have it both ways. We need to look to the future NOW. Remember Cub Scouts? Be Prepared. Center School is a great location--centrally located, will improve Route 47 and attract businesses to that area. The people who complain that driving through town on 47 is ugly should support this, or are those just partisan complainers, too?

You won't publish this because it doesn't fit your tight, agendas, Bob and Curt.

6:34 AM, October 26, 2007  
Blogger skepticalmorris said...

Whatever. Actually, our view is that the new city hall is needed and that there's nothing wrong with the Center School location. We do think that this is a legal abuse of TIF money. We don't like the facade; and we expect the City Council to build itself palatial quarters, just like every other board does when they remodel or build.

BTW, we're neither Bob nor Curt.

9:43 PM, October 26, 2007  
Anonymous senior on a fixed income said...

The city could accomodate it needs for a fraction of what it proposes to spend. For example, the existing city hall could be given to the police department. Move the chief, detectives and administrative personnel to the offices currently occupied by city hall staff. Then build a more modest office building for the city hall. A 4,000 sf office building could be built on city-owned land for under $1,000,000. Some remodelling will be need for the PD. Again, well under $1,000,000. Even allowing for some extras, both projects could be completed for under $3,000,000. Not too far off the $2,500,000 that the city has said was needed from TIF. The rest of the TIF money should be returned to the schools to provide some tax relief for residents. Problem solved.

8:27 AM, October 27, 2007  
Anonymous Bob Elleson said...

Only a sitting judge can decide what a legal use of TIF is and what is not. Just ask the heads of all the Seneca school districts.

I suspect the same will happen locally.

6:34, whoever you might be, we can disagree without name calling.

Also, I do not run any blog, comment once in awhile when I see something that interest me. My spelling and grammar are to atrocious.

I enjoy reading Curt’s blog, John Swezy’s blog, Skepital Morris and my favorite Sledgehammer Morris. All run by people that are very well-written and knowledgeable about local issues.


9:58 AM, October 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Cub Scouts motto is Do Your Best.

10:06 AM, October 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think most people agree that using TIF funds to build a $12 million dollar administration center is quite ridiculous in a town of our size (come on...there are 12,000 residents). Yes, we will grow. But, we will not grow as quickly if the Brisbin Rd interchange is not built. All the growth will go to Minooka. They will have a very nice new Ridge Road interchange. But, Dickie has been pretty effective in irritating channahon again. So, I feel pretty positive we will loose the progress made by Martha. Do we need a new admin/police center? Yes. But, let's do it reasonably. Don't forget there is a rather large $11-22 MILLION DOLLAR landfill clean up looming out there that us taxpayers will be paying for in the very near future. So, regardless of a TIF extension - oh, our property taxes are going UP UP UP!!!

6:11 AM, October 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am on board with 8:27 but to throw out some more food for about building a new cop shop and have City Hall take over the current location? That might be something to consider. The new cop shop could be located at the Center School site in position for other city needs in the future. Just food for thought...

3:26 PM, October 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senior, that same scenario was brought before the former chief of police Doug Hayse. He thought that would be fine and take the police department out into the future for many years. Also 911 would not need to be moved, saving a very large chunk of cash.

4:03 PM, October 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you need to re-think your conclusion.

A new voice is in the mix.

12:41 AM, October 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you notice the huge payment by the city to "Minority Development Co."? What it this company, what does it do and why is the city paying it so much cash??

10:29 PM, November 20, 2007  
Blogger skepticalmorris said...

Minority Development gets a rebate of 75 percent of their sales taxes, just like Ritchie Bros. and Bell Fuels. Not sure what it is that they sell. Anybody know?

7:18 AM, November 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minority Development operates out of a one room office in the Franklin Building. The office is usually locked and empty.

8:32 AM, November 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They sell cars from Grayslake. The sales tax in Grayslake is 6.5%. They pretend to sell the car in Morris. Do you understand the rest?

8:04 PM, November 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they sell cars

9:08 PM, November 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skeptical Morris needs to be listed under "defunct blogs"

10:11 PM, December 11, 2007  
Anonymous wannahelp said...

how come nobody wants to discuss the recent robberies in Morris and the home invasion? The word on the street is they knwo who it is. Ok, then let's get them. or is there more to it?

11:14 PM, January 10, 2008  

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