The wrong use of TIF dollars

July 21, 2013 

Belleville has found some creative, questionable ways to spend TIF dollars in the past, but the plan to build a trash enclosure for several successful downtown businesses is really pushing it.

The City Council voted 9-5 to spend $15,484 from TIF on the enclosure. But TIF is supposed to be for blighted areas, which downtown is not. And its use is supposed to be based on the "but for" test -- but for TIF, this project would not happen. Obviously, this one still would.

All the city had to do was tell the businesses: Your trash, your responsibility. The businesses probably would have found a solution for a lot cheaper than the $15,484 it will cost taxpayers.

The issue really isn't the dollar amount but the precedent. There is an ever-expanding use of tax funds for things that are part of the cost of doing business. Can't blame the businesses for asking, but Belleville leaders should have said no.

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