The evening began with a public hearing, with several interested
businesses owners present to hear the proceedings.
To start, Mayor
Keith Snyder asked John Myers of Rabin & Myers in Springfield to
address the group about the district.
Myers offered a recap of events leading to the vote to establish
the district. He explained that he along with Lisa Kramer of Prairie
Engineers had approached the council in March last year with the
suggestion of doing a feasibility study to see if the city would
qualify for the district.
The TIF that Myers and Kramer were interested in researching was
for a rehabilitation or revitalization program. Such a program would
encourage current business owners to refurbish their current
buildings. The concept was that the city could assist with certain
projects based on the increased assessed value of a property once it
In August, when Myers and Kramer came back to the council, he
said that the downtown area did qualify for such a TIF district.
They asked for the authority to move forward with a plan.
When the plan was completed, it went before a review board from
other taxing bodies within the area. Specifically, the city, county,
District 27 schools, Lincoln Community High School, Heartland
College and Lincoln Public Library were represented on the board.
Myers reported that the review board had approved the plan
unanimously and recommended that it be adopted by the city.
The final step before passing the ordinances was to hold a public
meeting. This was fulfilled Monday night. Myers said letters had
gone out to all the owners of property inside the proposed district,
and also to all owners of property within 700 feet of the district
When Myers finished, Snyder asked him to have a seat and invited
anyone in the audience or council to offer their comments or ask
Robert Miller took the podium as a property owner in the proposed
district. He said he wanted to know what the specific plan for the
Myer said the plan could be a mix of work done on public
infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks or sewers, but it could
include plans for private property improvements such as facades,
roofs and more. "There is no specific plan in mind yet," he told
Miller. "That will come later."
Myers added that if someone were to come into Lincoln and say
they wanted to buy, for example, half a city block for a project,
assistance would be available for them to do their project.
Miller then asked what would happen if people don't want to sell
Myers said in that case it would not be sold. He assured Miller
that the city has no plans to exercise eminent domain. He also said
that the state of Illinois has changed the laws regarding this,
making it much harder for municipalities to take property.
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Myer added another comment, saying some (owners) had wondered if
property taxes would rise.
The tax rate will not rise.
Myers explained that the rate will not change, but the assessed
value of an improved property will change.
The city will claim the difference between the old assessed taxes
and the new assessed taxes for the TIF district.
Jan Dickerson, another business owner in the newly proposed
district, asked if there were any downsides to forming this TIF.
Myers said he didn't see any. He went on to explain that the
normal objection to a TIF is that it takes money away from other
taxing bodies, such as the public schools.
Myers said for this proposal that claim wasn't an issue. He
further commented that the values of properties in the downtown area
have been declining. Establishing the TIF will stabilize the values
so all the other taxing bodies will receive the same amount of tax
revenue they are currently receiving.
After Dickerson's question was answered, Snyder asked if anyone
else wished to speak. When no one responded, the public hearing was
drawn to a close, after approximately 11 minutes duration.
During the voting session that followed, three ordinances were
put up for vote by Alderman Tom O'Donohue.
The first ordinance established the district. The second adopted
the downtown TIF redevelopment plan. And, the third set the
boundaries for the district.
O'Donohue asked that all three ordinances be handled with one
vote. When the vote was taken, it passed 9-0 with one abstaining.
O'Donohue abstained because he owns business property within the TIF
All three ordinances will be placed in the official city code
book and will be available through the code section of the city
website at a later date.
[By NILA SMITH]
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