The Collinsville City Council approved a contract with an urban planning and design company that will explore the feasibility of establishing a new tax increment financing district and business district in the city at its Monday night meeting.
Peckham, Guyton, Albers & Viets Inc., is asking for a $59,000 lump sum, plus “reimbursable expenses,” including necessary, preapproved travel expenses, local mileage, long distance telephone charges and other “out-of-pocket” expenses.
The proposed St. Louis Road/Collinsville Road TIF district extends from Fairmount Park Racetrack, 9301 Collinsville Road, to Horseshoe Lounge & Restaurant, 410 St. Louis Road, which is where TIF District 1 ends.
Economic Development Director Erika Kennett said Monday night that the boundaries of the TIF district may change following the study.
Collinsville Mayor John Miller said during the June 8 special meeting and strategic session that adding this new TIF district would be a “very wise thing for the city to do” in preparation of “a major change” at Fairmount.
Casino Queen owners have said they would like to buy Fairmount Park if the Illinois Legislature allows slot machine gaming at horse tracks.
“If that’s the case,” Miller said at the special meeting, “there’s going to be a large input of money into the property down there, and it’s going to stir a lot of development in the lower region down there. I think it would behoove us to be ready for that growth to have it under a TIF, and we’re proposing to top it with a business district, so we can have a double-layer there of using either property taxes or sales tax to help new business to come in.”
Miller also said that if the casino does not purchase the property, it is “even more important” to approve the TIF district.
“The track will fall, we’ll lose our second-largest employer in the city, and we need to be ready to supplement and help development in that corridor there,” he said.
Collinsville Middle School is also included in the proposed TIF district. Miller said the council may be able to help school officials with a plan they developed to expand the middle school to help with the space problem Collinsville schools are facing.
“If our children in our community need a wing in a school, and they can’t afford to build it because state funds are drying up and our legislature in the state will not give them money to build a school, and we have funds sitting there in a TIF fund that we could give them to help them build a wing in a school, I would be remorse in saying ‘no’ to them,” Miller said at the special meeting.
Councilman Nancy Moss said she is opposed to giving TIF funds to other taxing bodies, and voted against the contract with PGAV along with Councilman Jeff Kypta.
“I don’t think that’s fair to the taxpayers of our city, and we’ve seen how it’s worked out in the past with (Collinsville Area Recreation District),” Moss said at the special meeting. “That’s just a point that I really have a lot of problems with, in using TIF dollars for a school or for whatever because we have a formula for the school system already. I just think that’s wrong. Whether it’s the library, whether it’s C.A.R.D. or any other taxing body, that’s a pretty tough double-dip.”
Kypta also said he does not support giving TIF funds to taxing bodies.
Councilman Cheryl Brombolich said at the special meeting that not giving TIF funds to the school could hurt taxpayers.
“If you say taxing bodies can’t use TIF funds, then it’s going to cause them to raise their taxes in order to come up with the funds they need to build the wing,” Brombolich said. “That’s going to hurt the residents.”
Moss said during the Monday night meeting that she has to “reject that reasoning.”
“Taxing bodies need to live within their own means,” Moss said Monday night.
Councilman Jeff Stehman supports the TIF district, calling TIFs a “good tool” at the special meeting. Brombolich also supports the TIF district, saying it will show results quicker than a business district. She suggested using TIF funds to support not only the school district, but also the sports complex.
“I’ve been involved in youth sports forever and that’s a goldmine down there,” she said at the special meeting, “but they just don’t utilize it.”
Kennett said during the special meeting that the city is also partnering with Madison County to establish an enterprise zone within the proposed TIF district.
Moss said she has “no problem” with the enterprise zone or the business district, but she does not want to see any more TIF districts created.
“I think we’ve got enough TIFs in place,” Moss said at the special meeting.
City Manager Scott Williams said at the special meeting that Collinsville is competing with nearby towns that are using TIFs to develop their communities, including Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, O’Fallon, Fairview Heights, Shiloh and Swansea.
“If we don’t get in the game, then we’re going to miss opportunities going forward,” Williams said. “I have said for a very long time that my personal belief with TIF is if it’s done for the right reasons, and utilized properly, it can be a fantastic tool. If it’s done for the wrong reasons and it’s mismanaged, then it can be horrible.”
Williams was not present at the Monday night meeting.
Miller said the area the proposed TIF district encompasses includes the eastern entrance to the city, which “needs to be greatly upgraded.”
“We’re not going to be able to get anybody to do that for nothing,” Miller said at the special meeting. “If we can stir economic development there, and give some people some help to do that, I think it will greatly enhance what we can do with that area.”
Williams said at the special meeting that without some attempt to improve the area, what results could be more than stagnation.
“If we don’t do something, then it’s not going to stay the way it is now. It’s only going to get worse,” he said.
The plan for the district is largely “conceptual” and “evolving” for the time being, Williams said.
“It’s not going to be a short process,” he said. “It’s going to be a lengthy process.”
This proposed TIF district was also considered in 2012, but the project was discontinued because there “wasn’t a lot of council support for it,” Miller said Monday night, because it was at a financially unstable time “at the economic downturn.”
In other business at the Monday night meeting, the council voted 3-2 against an ordinance that would have authorized rate increases of 2 percent for non-union personnel, which is consistent with raises given to union personnel this year, according to a report from Finance Director Tamara Ammann.
Miller, Stehman and Brombolich voted against the ordinance, while Moss and Kypta voted for it.
The council approved the following:
- An ordinance authorizing the expenditure of $49,760 in TIF funds for interior demolition, removal of the faux stone facade, replacement of storefront windows, tuckpointing and carpentry work at 119 W. Main Street, the future site of a new restaurant called Sloan’s Pub House.
- An ordinance authorizing the expenditure of $3,800 in TIF funds to repair and resurface the parking lot between the Mississippi Valley Library District at 408 W. Main Street and Blum House. Moss and Kypta voted against the ordinance.
Collinsville City Council meets next at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 13 at City Hall, 125 S. Center.
Contact reporter Lexi Cortes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2514.