Editorials

Much to gain from this TIF

Belleville has worked for years to attract a hotel to the city. Tonight the City Council has a chance to make that a reality, and more, by approving a TIF for a project on property owned by the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.

Regular readers know that we are not fans of tax increment financing. But this $50 million to $60 million project – a hotel, a Hofbrauhaus, a conference center, restaurants and a convenience mart – is a reasonable exception.

The city has structured the financial incentives so that there is minimal risk to taxpayers. The developers would get nearly $18 million in incentives, but that primarily would be from future dollars the project generates. The city will not sell bonds nor will it give the developer money upfront. No tax money generated, no tax money expended.

The only direct cost would be extending a sewer line, and that is something that makes the vacant property more attractive to any developer, not just this one.

But the truth that is without TIF, this property likely will continue to sit unused and not generate any tax revenue for the city.

Bottom line: Belleville has little to lose but potentially much to gain from this project. It could generate jobs, entertainment opportunities and maybe even be a catalyst for more growth along Illinois 15. The private developer would benefit, but so would the taxpayers of Belleville.

We urge aldermen to vote “yes” on the TIF so this project can proceed.

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