Belleville gets ready to give the gift of TIF

October 16, 2013 

The vote isn't until Monday, but it's a safe bet that the Belleville City Council will approve TIF funding for two wonderful senior living center projects.

But is this a proper use of TIF? No. By definition, TIF is supposed to be used to attract projects to blighted areas that wouldn't happen but for the taxpayer subsidies. But both St. Paul Home's $29.5 million project and the $8.2 million The Cottages at Cathedral Square will be built with or without the city chipping in tax dollars to help with demolitions. St. Paul's is asking for up to $250,000 and the Cathedral Cottages, $175,000.

St. Paul's is a nonprofit and so the project will not generate property or sales tax dollars for the city. This would be the first time Belleville gave a nonprofit TIF funds.

Mayor Mark Eckert, who supports these requests, says the St. Paul's project is unique. How many times have we heard that justification? Belleville has approved so many TIF projects, it's hard for city leaders to say no when someone asks.

It's part of the reason that Belleville is at the point of using TIF funds not just as an economic development tool but as a taxpayer-funded gift.

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