Council Briefing: Aldermen Approve Police Review Board Rules, Delay Action on TIF Guidelines

 District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly addressed Bloomington aldermen Tuesday night during a discussion of the City's use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF). (Photo: Breanna Grow/AdaptBN)

District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly addressed Bloomington aldermen Tuesday night during a discussion of the City's use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF). (Photo: Breanna Grow/AdaptBN)

Bloomington aldermen unanimously approved rules and educational materials for the City’s Public Safety and Community Relations Board Tuesday night.

A poster and accompanying brochure will be posted at various locations throughout the City detailing the board’s process for reviewing citizens’ formal complaints against Bloomington police. A similar poster will hang inside the Bloomington Police Department at 305 S. East St.

PSCRB Chair Art Taylor said the board took public input from its first quarterly meeting into consideration in drafting its rules, including the need to maintain confidentiality. City Attorney Jeff Jurgens said the board reviews the BPD’s complaint investigation process, not complainants’ personal information, to make sure the correct procedures were followed.

Taylor said to date no one has submitted a complaint to the board for review; “To me, that’s a good thing,” he added. Taylor also said the group has developed an “excellent” relationship with the City’s new Chief of Police Clay Wheeler.

The PSCRB meets at 3:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month in the Osborn Room of the Bloomington Police Department.

Delayed action on TIF guidelines

Tuesday night’s discussion of the City’s use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) as an economic development incentive will continue at the next Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Aldermen had the option to consider a resolution establishing guidelines for future TIF use, but after hearing differing opinions from City staff and District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly, the council voted to keep the conversation going.

“It’s too soon to vote,” Alderman Amelia Buragas said. “Number one, I think we should give staff more time to work with the school district and any other taxing bodies that want to provide comments so that we can continue to move toward consensus.”

Alderman Scott Black introduced the motion to revisit the issue at the June 18 meeting, asking that staff explore adding a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) provision to the City’s TIF guidelines.

PLAs require that developers hire local laborers on a project in order to receive any TIF incentives. Great Plains Laborers Representative Mike Matejka told the council PLAs could help maximize a TIFs economic development impact through wages paid to area workers, as well as support for apprenticeships providing high school graduates with training and job opportunities.

The City currently has two TIF districts in place (Empire Street Corridor and Downtown Southwest), with a third proposed near East Washington Street in Downtown Bloomington.

Aldermen raised concerns during a February 12 meeting over the proposed TIF’s potential impact on District 87.

Reilly encouraged the City to use other economic development incentives like tax abatements wherever possible and set shorter TIF terms allowing District 87 and other taxing bodies to see the benefit of the newly-generated property tax revenues sooner.

Alderman Jamie Mathy noted in areas where properties’ equalized assessed valuation (EAV) is declining or sitting at zero, taxing bodies stand only to benefit from a TIF and any development it encourages.

Reilly said while the district receives the same amount of tax revenue during the TIF as it would if the TIF never existed, “every year D87 levies the amount it needs to educate its students...to the extent that D87’s levy goes to the developer, it’s not going toward educating students.” In light of decreased state funding and flat or declining property values, the district could use surplus dollars generated by ending a TIF before its term is up to improve the quality of education at its schools.

But staff argue the City already carries out the best practices outlined in the proposed TIF guidelines, and while the City has never declared surplus on a TIF, it’s a move that should be made whenever possible for future TIFs.

What’s Next: The Committee of the Whole will continue the TIF discussion from 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 18 in the council chambers at City Hall, 109 E. Olive St., Bloomington.