Don’t mess with TIF funds

Yes, the state is in a “severe financial crisis” as state Rep. Brad Bruzynski, R-Sycamore, put it. But programs like the Tax Increment Finance systems that can help the state get out of the crisis should not be underfunded.

The state only paid $18 million of the $24 million which was supposed to go to TIF districts throughout Illinois. DeKalb has one of those districts.

The purpose of the 5-year-old TIF program is to stimulate business growth in an economically depressed area. In DeKalb, the program has attracted businesses to make an industrial park to go along with street and sewer improvements.

The program has definitely been proven a success here. In the first year of the program, sales revenue in DeKalb grew 24.1 percent. Other cities also claim the TIF program has been a valuable development tool.

Ironically, poor economic development is part of the reason the state is strapped for cash. But reducing funding for a program that creates income for the state is illogical. Twenty-four million dollars is not much money for such an effective program. The state certainly has some “money pit” programs which do not get as much bang for the buck.

Hopefully, cities can get together and lobby for full TIF funding from the state next year. DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow claims DeKalb has already been shorted over $1 million for its TIF district since the program has started.

The state cannot continue to shoot itself in the foot by penalizing deficit reducing programs.