There are at least two ways to think about tax increment financing, or TIF, districts.
They’re the greatest economic tool for redeveloping blighted areas, growing the tax base, and creating jobs since sliced bread.
Or. . .
They’re a devilish financial maneuver that starve public school districts, park districts and other taxing bodies of property tax revenues, causing tax rates to go up, at least slightly, in areas outside TIF districts.
The experts get into seriously deep, thorny weeds when it comes to explaining the pros, cons and complicated intricacies of TIF districts. Don’t worry, this is a basic primer, TIFs for dummies.
Proponents of the great-tool school of thought tend to work in economic development. Here’s Assistant City Manager Chris Setti, who oversees economic development for the city of Peoria, and Craig Hullinger, former economic development director for Peoria. Hullinger and his wife, Beth Ruyle, are retired economic development consultants who live in Florida.
“You don’t want older parts of the city in decline while everybody moves to the suburbs,” Hullinger says. “TIF is the strongest tool for a city trying to revive its older neighborhoods.”
He and Setti relish listing the South Side-Downtown-riverfront- urban revival successes that benefited from, were assisted by or probably wouldn’t have happened but for TIF districts. For instance:
Dozer Park, Mariott-Pere Marquette renovations, Peoria Riverfront Museum, Caterpillar Visitors Center, PMP Fermentation, O’Brien Steel expansion, Campustown and the S-curve on University Street, practically every new development in the finally-retired Southtown TIF over the past 30 years, from new homes to businesses, a hospital, Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Center, University of Illinois College of Medicine campus and nearby medical offices along Main Street.
Click to read the full article in the Peoria Journal Star: