Joliet moves closer to TIF revamp

Brock A. Stein | 2/21/2018, 11:03 a.m.
This week, the City of Joliet held the first of two public meetings before the city council is expected to ...
The City of Joliet wants to hit reset on its City Center TIF district by shrinking it down and creating a new downtown TIF for the outlying areas around it. City of Joliet

This week, the City of Joliet held the first of two public meetings before the city council is expected to approve a plan for a revamp of an existing TIF district and the creation of another.

The council could vote to approve the reconfigured TIF district plans at its next meeting on March 6.

Under the proposal, the original City Center TIF district which encompasses the area bounded by Webster Street, Joliet Street, Van Buren and Scott Streets, and includes 284 parcels would be reduced to include only 59 under the new plan.

Economic Development Director Steve Jones said that the plan to shrink the TIF, which is set to expire in 2023, would help keep the re-development “renaissance” in the area rolling.

Jeff Dickinson, of consulting firm S.B. Friedman, which conducted the study, said that the reconfigured City Center TIF would help “re-energize” the downtown.

The City Center TIF would shrink from 91 acres down to 12 acres if the plan is approved going from 284 parcels to just 59.

The impact would mean that about $2 million in tax revenue from those reduced 225 parcels will be returned to the area’s taxing districts.

In addition, the proposal would create a new 175-acre Downtown TIF district that would include 439 parcels and 211 buildings about 65% of which are more than 35 years or older.

Criteria cited for the creation of the district includes a lack of growth in property values, deterioration, inadequate access to utilities and structures below the minimum building code requirements.

About 138 out of 211 buildings were constructed before 1981 and before current building code standards were set in 2012. Some buildings were found to be so old that there are no records of their actual age.

In total, about 97% of structures were found to not meet current building code, 80% required water main replacements, 90% needed sanitary sewer upgrades and 20% required storm drain improvements.

Once a Tax Increment Funding (TIF) district is created, tax rates are frozen and remain constant within the district for as long as 23 years. During that time, any income from increases in property value that generate new tax revenue is placed in a TIF fund to be reinvested in improvements in the area.

The city is required to hold 2 public hearings before the new districts can be created and will also has to review its plans with the taxing bodies within the proposed area which includes Will County, the Forest Preserve District of Will County, Joliet Township and 12 other taxing bodies including 2 school districts as well as Joliet Community College.