School districts oppose tax break for Hoffman Estates development
Two unit school districts led several local governments Tuesday in strongly criticizing proposed property tax incentives for a conceptual 184-acre development at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72 in Hoffman Estates.
Officials from Barrington Unit District 220 and Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 were among the 11 members of the joint review board tasked with determining whether the commercial and residential project would qualify for a tax increment financing district.
School district representatives said they see little planning by the developers from 5a7 LLC to help them bear the financial burden of the students brought by the project's houses and apartment buildings.
"We're not opposed to development," District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid said. "But we do expect transparency. And that has not been forthcoming to date."
A TIF district works by freezing the level of property taxes local governments receive at their current level. As development occurs, additional property tax revenue generated within the TIF district goes directly to a municipally held fund to pay for public improvements.
The TIF district expires after 23 years or when all improvements have been paid for -- whichever comes first.
When a TIF district includes residential development, as this one would, school districts could qualify for up to 40 percent of the increased taxes to be paid to them annually.
There is a wide disparity between the developer's and school districts' estimates over how many students might live on the property.
Anthony Iatarola, manager of the development partnership, said 575 students are the maximum projected to live in the property's planned 1,035 housing units at any one time.
But District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said his district is estimating 1,300 to 1,800 students between both school districts.
District 300 Chief Operating Officer Susan Harkin said the district doesn't currently have the capacity to accommodate its share, so voters would have to authorize building a new facility.
Meanwhile, the developer is seeking $21 million in property tax reimbursements over the life of a TIF district to help overcome obstacles to making the site construction-ready. Those obstacles include wetlands, buried construction debris and a natural gas pipeline that would need to be removed or relocated.
The developer and village officials agreed to meet informally with the two school districts on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The next formal meeting of the joint review board is at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at Hoffman Estates village hall, 1900 Hassell Road.
Other potentially affected taxing bodies include Harper College, Elgin Community College, the Hoffman Estates Park District, the Barrington Hills Park District, the Barrington Area Public Library and Cook County, among others.