District 214 Board authorizes lawsuit challenging new Mount Prospect TIF District

Tonight the Board of Education authorized the filing of a lawsuit challenging the establishment of the Village of Mount Prospect’s new Prospect and Main Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. The Prospect and Main TIF district covers an area in downtown Mount Prospect that includes a significant portion of the downtown that has been located within a TIF district since 1985.

In October, 2016, the Village dissolved the Downtown TIF district and then in January, 2017, created the new Prospect and Main TIF district incorporating many of the same properties. The effect of replacing one TIF district with another TIF district is that a significant portion of the downtown area will be in a TIF district from 1985 to 2040 – a 55-year period. Under Illinois law, TIF districts are to run for a 23 year term. By including parcels from the Downtown TIF district in the new Prospect and Main TIF district, the Village is circumventing the spirit and intent of state TIF legislation limiting the term of a TIF district.

TIF districts shift the tax burden for schools and all other taxing bodies from parcels within a TIF district to those residents and businesses not included in a TIF district, thus forcing tax rates to rise. Residents in all of District 214 – not just Mount Prospect residents – will see their property tax bills further increase as a result of this newly-created TIF district.

District 214 has serious questions as to whether the Prospect and Main TIF district meets the eligibility criteria for the establishment of a TIF district. An independent expert found the properties within the new TIF district do not qualify for a TIF designation because the area does not suffer from deterioration, inadequate utilities, or a lack of community planning as the Village asserts.

“We greatly value the collaborative relationships we have historically had with all of our municipal partners, and hope this can be resolved in an amicable manner,” said Dr. David R. Schuler, superintendent of High School District 214. “We do not take this action lightly, but when we have significant concerns about the eligibility of a TIF district and when the Village has failed to respond to our concerns, we feel we have no other option.”

For months, the Village has ignored District 214’s repeated attempts to work together on a solution that addresses the District’s concerns with the new TIF district. District 214 has expressed concerns about the project’s eligibility and its impact, and voted against the new TIF district at a Joint Review Board meeting in November, 2016.

Since then, the District has reached out numerous times to the Village to address these concerns, but the Village has not responded.

When used appropriately, TIF districts can be a vital tool to spur development in communities. In partnership with other taxing bodies, District 214 has supported numerous TIF districts over the years. In 2006, District 214 worked collaboratively with the Village to create an intergovernmental agreement that allowed for a 12-year extension of the Downtown TIF district while still meeting the needs of all in the school community. The Village’s decision to establish the new TIF district and its actions contravene that history of collaboration and cooperation.

“The unilaterally new/extended downtown TIF District does not appear to meet the qualifications for a TIF. We are objecting to Mount Prospect’s TIF in an effort to stem the tide of TIF tax increases and the shift of school property tax burden to residents and businesses outside the TIF,” said Dan Petro, vice president of the District 214 Board of Education. “Further, I suggest that our legislators and Governor review the misuse of TIF districts and other tax incentives that create additional tax burdens on residents of our community.”

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