Aldermen Again Delay TIF Vote for Staff and District 87 to Reach Agreement

 Aldermen voted again Monday night to postpone action on the City's Tax Increment Financing guidelines in the hopes that City staff and District 87 representatives can settle a dispute over the document. (Photo: Christian Prenzler/AdaptBN)

Aldermen voted again Monday night to postpone action on the City's Tax Increment Financing guidelines in the hopes that City staff and District 87 representatives can settle a dispute over the document. (Photo: Christian Prenzler/AdaptBN)

City staff and District 87 representatives have one week to settle their differences on Bloomington’s proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) guidelines before aldermen vote on a proposed TIF district June 25.

Council members voted during Monday night’s special session to take up the matter at the next regular meeting.

However, the council is also scheduled to vote on three ordinances concerning the City’s proposed Downtown East Washington Street TIF at that meeting. The items need council action before an upcoming deadline requires the City to restart the public hearing process for the project.

City Attorney Jeff Jurgens said the goal had been to have guidelines in place before the council considered the proposed TIF. Aldermen had already postponed the vote at the last regular meeting over concerns City staff and the school district disagreed over portions of the document.

Alderman Amelia Buragas introduced the motion to postpone Monday night’s vote.

“I don’t like to delay, but I want to get this right,” she said. Asked if City staff and district representatives could reach an agreement in one week, Jurgens said City staff would resume negotiations.

“It’s probably more important for everybody to be comfortable with this,” he conceded. “I think we could certainly come up with some new language.”

The Fine Print: The “language” in question is just one paragraph of the three-page document outlining the City’s approach to using TIF as an economic development incentive.

As written by staff, the section relays the City’s commitment to ensuring developers receive the minimum incentive necessary to get redevelopment projects started within a TIF area.

But District 87 representatives say the provision doesn’t go far enough to support the school district and other affected taxing bodies.

Under the district’s proposed change, the City would take any number of steps to ensure both taxing bodies and private developers benefit from a TIF, from limiting redevelopment plan terms to compensating taxing bodies for property tax revenue contributed to a plan.

District 87 Attorney John Pratt said the district’s main concern is over the City’s historic 23-year project terms.

“Let’s use a smaller period,” he said. “Or let’s have the payback to the school district faster than 23 years. Let’s reduce the amount of the tax rate that goes into the TIF...we’re looking for creativity here.”

Jurgens said staff view District 87’s proposal as limiting the City’s ability to remain flexible in order to attract developers. That said, staff still support examining redevelopment projects on a case-by-case basis to determine if and how TIF should be used.

“Staff sees this as the beginning of a discussion -- this isn’t the end of a discussion,” he said. “These are the types of discussions we’ll be having every time we come forward with these types of projects.”