Council votes to reconsider TIF money

By Stewart Warren

Although DeKalb City Council members voted Feb. 12 to give the school district at least $4.73 million in tax increment financing money, the amount might change March 12.

The council voted 7-0 Monday night to reconsider the amount of TIF money allocated to the schools.

Originally, school board officials expected to receive 80 percent of the money the school system lost because of the TIF district, Deere said.

The council decided to reconsider the TIF issue because of public outcry after the Feb. 12 decision to give the school district 70 percent of the TIF property tax lost by the school district.

“Over the last few days I have been very upset over some of the rhetoric,” 5th Ward Alderman Bessie Chronopoulos said. “I think that goes for a lot of people involved with the situation,” she said.

The school district’s eventual share of the TIF funds is linked to the state school aid index. The school district receives extra state aid of almost $153,000 because of the property tax dollars going to the TIF district instead of the school district, DeKalb City Manager Mark Stevens said.

Because of the possibility of additional state aid going to the schools, council members decided to subtract the amount of the aid from the schools’ TIF dollars, Assistant DeKalb City Manager Gary Boden said.

“Over the past several days … we have attempted to research the state aid figure further. Our research has indicated that the 20 percent figure (the amount of extra state aid the schools receive because of the TIF district) may be too low … The additional state aid figure relative to the TIF impact may be as high as 54 or 55 percent,” Stevens said.

Stevens said the most accurate amount of additional state aid, however, is probably somewhere between 20 and 55 percent.

During the meeting, 3rd Ward Alderman Bill Hanna said DeKalb School Superintendent Jack Deere used “the big lie technique,” telling the public that the council would give schools 80 percent of the money lost by the school district.

However, the city council members had not voted on the issue yet.

“He went to the public and formed these committees though he knew there was no basis in that (the 80 percent) figure,” Hanna said Tuesday.

Deere said he and school board members met with Mark Stevens on Jan. 17 and agreed on the 80 percent figure.

“We felt in good faith the 80 percent was an amenable agreement” between the city and the school board, Deere said Tuesday.

“We felt that Stevens had enough votes on the council to get that done,” he said. School board members thought Stevens said the 80 percent proposal was satisfactory, even though the council had not voted yet.