Belleville

Belleville City Council advances TIF plan for Shrine developers

The Belleville City Council on Wednesday took another step in the process of getting tax incentives for developers of a proposed upscale hotel, conference center and Hofbrauhaus restaurant across Illinois 15 from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.

Aldermen established a joint review board for area tax districts to review the site’s Tax Increment Financing redevelopment plan at 1 p.m. April 10 and they set a public hearing for 6 p.m. May 11 for the TIF plan.

Keller Enterprises of Effingham has proposed the plans for the $50 million-plus project. Under a development agreement approved by the city Feb. 17, the company could earn up to $15.69 million in various rebates from the city. Keller representatives have said they cannot develop this project without a series of tax incentives that include the TIF district.

A TIF district would allow the city to collect a portion of the property taxes owed at the site and a percentage of the money would then be given to the developer.

Supporters of the project say it will create jobs and boost the economic outlook for the Shrine. Opponents have raised questions about the city’s vetting of the developers and the use of tax incentives.

Aldermen Trent Galetti, Joe Hayden and Alderwoman Lillian Schneider voted against the TIF measures regarding the review board and the public hearing.

Schneider said she thought the process should be delayed until after the new City Council takes office after the April 7 election when up to eight new aldermen could be elected.

Hayden opposed language in the TIF plan that said the city “may issue” bonds for this project. His motion to have this wording removed from the plan was defeated 8-3 with Alderman Joe Orlet abstaining. Galetti and Schneider joined Hayden in supporting this motion.

Council members Johnnie Anthony, Michael Heisler, Ken Kinsella, Dorothy Meyer, James Musgrove, “Gabby” Rujawitz, Janet Schmidt and Paul Siebert opposed the motion.

Aldermen Jim Davidson, Kent Randle, Phillip Silsby and Bob White were absent.

The city plans to spend more than $2 million in installing sewers to the site but supporters of the plan say the city will not rebate any taxes to the developers until businesses at the site start to produce income.

Other tax incentives for the site include setting up a business district, which allows businesses to collect an additional 1 percent sales tax, which is then rebated to the developer, and setting up an enterprise zone, which allows the developer to purchase building materials without paying state sales tax as long as the purchases are made in Illinois.

The joint review board will include representatives from the city, St. Clair County, Stookey Township, Belleville School District 201, Harmony-Emge School District 175, the Belleville Library District and Southwestern Illinois College District 522.

Contact reporter Mike Koziatek at mkoziatek@bnd.com or 618-239-2502. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKoziatekBND.

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