Of DeKalb’s Newly Proposed TIF Districts, South Fourth Would Be a Pill


DeKalb is considering implementation of two new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) proposals for Sycamore Road and for South Fourth Street.

The public hearings on these plans are scheduled for August 12.

The Sycamore Road plan is small, targeted, and clearly ends with tax-paying private businesses. The South Fourth plan speaks vaguely to buying up private property to fix up and market as new commercial, and more specifically to fixing up the local school district’s public property.

Here’s the main problem with the South Fourth plan: These activities are what the two existing TIFs have been doing for years for very little return on investment. Through its Central Area TIF the city bought, demolished, remediated and prepped at least four downtown parcels and they now all sit as green space. TIF 2, I am convinced, was basically formed for the upkeep of city property such as Barb City Manor and school property such as the former Huntley Middle School.

While all of these are of course allowable and perhaps even in some cases desirable activities, TIF projects are really supposed to spur private development, create jobs and raise EAV.

I have a bunch of annual TIF reports stockpiled, including reports from the years FY2005-FY2010 for the Central Area TIF, our largest TIF district that’s been in the business of slush funding since 1986. Section 5 of these reports is for listing project descriptions (e.g., “Van Buer Parking Lot improvements”) and for itemizing public and private investment numbers for each project. Here are the dollars of private money invested in Central Area projects during this time period, in which nearly $10 million in taxpayer money was spent:

FY2005: $0
FY2006: $0
FY2007: $0
FY2008: $0
FY2009: $0
FY2010: $0

I intend to write more about the South Fourth redevelopment proposal, but am waiting for the clerk’s office to fulfill Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. So, next week I guess.