Letters to the Editor

TIF shell game

By design, the Tax Increment Financing creation process requires that affected taxing districts (i.e. schools) must vote to approve or deny a new TIF. The intent of this requirement is to create checks and balances. But that protection is circumvented when “sacrificed” funds are forwarded back into those districts (schools) via the back door.

Most schools aren’t voting down new TIF districts, because they’re NOT losing any money. The safeguard of duty to deny or approve that is meant to protect the other taxing districts and it’s residents is just a masquerade.

The shell game plays out as payments hidden in claims sheets. On April 4, Belleville approved payment of over $4.2 million to eight school districts from the TIF3 Fund. Of that, Districts 201 and 118 received $1.5 million and nearly $2 million respectively.

Seriously — if schools really risked losing teeth in the game they would fight any TIF not vetted to be an absolute good deal for the community. But, without any oversight preventing the TIF District from contracting to reimburse theoretical lost revenue, an unchecked breeding ground of political posturing can be developed.

As a previous letter pointed out, “…the citizen taxpayer have no vote or voice in the forming of a TIF.” We are reliant on a system that is meant to protect us. But there is always a loophole. So, please, the next time a TIF district passes unopposed, don’t be fooled into thinking “Oh, the poor schools.”

Joy Schreiber, Belleville