TIF dollars in the spotlight

Have you opened your property tax bills yet, St. Clair County taxpayers?

The bills may be painful to read but they’re also instructive. They tell you how much money schools and other taxing districts are taking from you. And a supplemental pink sheet lets you know how many tax dollars collectively go to TIF throughout the county.

For the record, it was $43.23 million in 2014, or 13.33 percent of the total property taxes collected countywide. That’s $4.7 million more than all cities, villages, townships and road districts collected combined.

It’s hard to believe that some people including Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert say that TIF doesn’t raise property taxes. Can we please put that false claim to rest?

And can we find one other point of common ground?

People can argue all day about the value of having TIFs – whether they boost economic development, create jobs and fund more infrastructure improvements. But could everyone agree that 23 years, the length of time a TIF exists, is too long?

With a continued choppy economy and the state’s gaping budget hole, it’s difficult for taxing districts their revenue needs one year from now let alone in 23. A 23-year TIF imprudently ties up millions of tax dollars.