Sugar Grove Library, fire officials, residents: 'No' to business incentives
Sugar Grove library and fire protection district officials, plus village residents, told the Sugar Grove village board Tuesday they don't want the village to create a second tax-incentive financing district to spur industrial and commercial development to the north and east of the Aurora Municipal Airport.
More than 60 people attended a public hearing on the matter.
Shannon Halikias, library director, said the library cannot afford to freeze for 23 years what it gets in property taxes from the 634 acres. She said the costs of maintaining and operating the building are increasing, cutting into the money it has for materials and programming.
In a TIF district, property tax payments to public bodies are frozen at their current level. Any increase in property taxes is used to pay for items, such as roads and water lines, that will encourage developers to build projects and thereby increase the value of the property. TIF districts can last up to 23 years. At the end of the 23 years, the taxing bodies can treat the increase in assessed valuation as new property and so increase their tax levy that year beyond the limits set by the state's property-tax cap law.
State law requires that towns determine that "but for" the availability of the public money, the projects would not be built. TIFs are intended to help improve blighted areas. The land "has not been subject to appropriate growth and development through investment by private enterprise," states a consultant's study on whether the area is eligible for TIF. The study says the land is blighted.
"If you define blight as a couple of decrepit farmhouses, I ask why these farmhouses were not asked to be cleaned up," Halikias said. There are 15 structures on the land.
Other people said that given the acreage is off routes 47 and 30, next to the airport and just 4 miles from I-88, it should be considered prime real estate.
Some speakers also opposed creating the TIF because they don't believe public tax money should be given to private businesses.
And residents of the Windsor West subdivision, which butts up to the land, also don't want any industrial buildings built on the land. Several said they moved to their neighborhood from more built-up suburbs because they wanted the peace and quiet of living near the country. Some said they fear the value of their property will drop, as buyers won't want to live near manufacturing buildings.
"We did not move here to live in an industrial park," Toby Cook said. "I am a firm believer that we do not use public tax dollars to improve somebody else's private land."
"Do we really need or want any industry here that cannot come in with enough money to start and stay on their own?" said Dolores Likeum.
Some of the land has been zoned, since the late 1990s, for industrial use.
Fire Chief Bill Perkins said the fire district board opposes the TIF district because the district will have to answer more calls to businesses built there without receiving more property taxes.
"We have a unique and obvious impact for any development that would occur in the TIF district," he said, unlike the library district or the Kaneland school district.
Trustees took notes during the hearing but did not answer questions or discuss the matter. Answers to points residents raised will be posted on the village website, President Sean Michels said.
He said the board could vote on the matter as early as its first meeting in May.