Yes, TIF is a tax increase

June 29, 2013 

It's said that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. That seems to be Belleville's tactic in trying to explain away the increasingly high cost of TIF.

Last year the city printed an article in its newsletter which stated tax increment financing doesn't raise property taxes, that "it is all in the distribution of the taxes you pay." Not true.

But despite editorials to the contrary and an election in which TIF was a central issue, Belleville continues to spew this propaganda.

In the just-released newsletter: "Due to the redistribution of a portion of your taxes into a special fund, it may appear that TIF increases your taxes. However, if the TIF were not present, the same amount would still be on your tax bill but would be distributed to the other line items on your bill instead of going into the TIF fund. Removing the TIF would not reduce your taxes."

Here are the facts from the St. Clair County 2012 tax computation report. You can read it yourself on the county clerk's web page.

Belleville requested $6.57 million in property taxes. However, the total to be collected is $9.75 million -- the city's request plus an additional $3 million for TIF. Does that look like just a redistribution of the taxes you pay? Of course not.

Assuming the city's tax levy doesn't change, the tax rate would be lower without TIF than it is with it. The city would need to increase its levy about 50 percent to collect $9.75 million.

Mayor Mark Eckert and some other city leaders have many reasons why they favor TIFs and want the extra money. Great, say that but let's stop pretending that TIF doesn't raise taxes. That extra $3 million is real money out of the taxpayers' pocket.

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