While residents have been vocal in their opposition of a proposed tax increment financing district along St. Louis Road, the taxing districts that would be affected by its creation, including schools, have joined business owners and the chamber of commerce in support of it.
The Collinsville Unit 10 School District has changed its stance on the plan, School Board President Gary Peccola said. Previously, school board members said publicly they could not support the new TIF because of the anticipated loss of revenue and the negative effect that would have on students.
Peccola said Wednesday the district and the city have come to an agreement in which loss of revenue is no longer an issue.
“The city is willing to work with the district and get us the money that we would have been losing because of the TIF district,” Peccola said.
In addition, he noted the schools would have access to TIF money if repairs were needed, for example, to the aging Jefferson Elementary School, which is located in the proposed TIF area.
There is a memorandum of understanding between the district and the city, according to Peccola, which would become an intergovernmental agreement in the future.
“As the EAV (equalized assessed value) goes up, the district gets less general state aid. We are getting more general state aid but not as much as we would have gotten from property taxes with the increased EAV,” he said. “The city is making up the difference in making us whole.”
There are some members of the seven-person school board who still do not agree with the creation of the TIF district, Peccola said, but a majority supports it.
The proposed TIF district would encompass nearly 850 acres along St. Louis Road, Collinsville Road and Bluff Road — called the southwest corridors — including Fairmount Park Racetrack, two schools and the city’s new water plant location. It would be Collinsville’s fourth TIF district, with one of the existing districts headed for dissolution.
The Joint Review Board — made up of representatives from State Park fire protection, Mississippi Valley Public Library, Collinsville and Caseyville townships, Southwestern Illinois College, Unit 10 and others — met Wednesday morning to discuss the plan. A majority of the board voted to make a recommendation to the City Council to create the proposed TIF district.
An ordinance that would make that happen will come before the City Council on June 27. Prior to that, everyone wishing to voice their opinions about the plan can attend the public hearing, which will take place before the City Council meeting on June 13. Both of the June meetings are scheduled to take place at the Gateway Center to accommodate a crowd, Interim City Manager Mitch Bair said Wednesday.
The last time the city solicited public input on the plan in March, the City Council Chambers at City Hall reached maximum capacity and an overflow room was needed.
The Joint Review Board members who voted in favor of recommending the TIF district’s creation included representatives from Collinsville, SWIC, the library, Unit 10 and a member of the public who lives within the proposed TIF district and sits on the board.
The fire protection district’s representative and St. Clair County’s representative voted against the recommendation. Representatives from Collinsville and Caseyville townships abstained from the vote.
The Collinsville Area Recreation District, Madison County and Nameoki Township representatives were not able to attend the meeting.
Comments from Joint Review Board members can continue to be submitted to the City Council up until the public hearing next month.
The city is willing to work with the district and get us the money that we would have been losing because of the TIF district.
Gary Peccola, school board president of Collinsville Unit 10
Most residents who have spoken publicly so far stand firmly against the plan. On the other side are some business owners, the Collinsville Chamber of Commerce, and now the taxing districts, supporting it.
A majority of the City Council has also previously voted in favor of moves to create the district, including Mayor John Miller, Councilman Jeff Stehman and Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich.
Council members Nancy Moss and Jeff Kypta do not support the plan.
Residents oppose the plan because they say there is no need for an additional TIF district, because they oppose the city’s previous use of TIF money, or because they fear they will have to move from their homes in that area when developers come in.
There are more than 400 housing units within the proposed TIF district area. The city, through a Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc., representative, has acknowledged that some housing units may be acquired over time for specific projects, but that the city would not be acquiring property by eminent domain.
According to the redevelopment plan, the proposal may result in the “removal” of 418 existing residential units, 412 of which are occupied, and relocation assistance would be provided to low-income residents.
Business owners, chamber representatives and council members have spoken about the opportunity to clean up the corridor and the positive effects it could have on tourism, new development and existing infrastructure.
Among the city’s stated goals for the TIF district is to support existing public service entities within the district, including schools, the water plant and sewer plant.
A number of public improvements are planned, including streetscape, repair and reconstruction of streets, extension of sidewalks and flooding mitigation on some vacant properties, among other potential projects.
The city is also hoping for major commercial and industrial development along Bluff Road and Collinsville Road, property improvements along St. Louis Road and “spillover investment” in neighboring areas.