Elmwood renews downtown TIF, four taxing bodies to get cut

For The Weekly Post

ELMWOOD – A quartet of local taxing bodies is to receive new revenue from a renewed Elmwood tax-increment-financing district.

During its meeting March 7, the Elmwood City Council approved a 10-year extension of the Central Business District TIF area. The vote followed talks among city officials and representatives of the Elmwood Rural Fire Protection District, Elmwood Township and the Elmwood School District.

Under the renewal terms, those entities and the Elmwood road and bridge fund are to receive 50 percent of downtown-TIF revenue paid from 2024 to 2028, in proportion with their property-tax rates. The city is to keep the other 50 percent.

From 2029 through 2033, those four taxing entities are to receive all the downtown-TIF proceeds. The city is not required to share money it receives from the TIF district, which was formed in 2011. The district is intended to help fund downtown improvements.

“With TIF districts, the farther you get into it, the more money you generate because of the time,” City TIF Attorney Mike Seghetti said following the council meeting. “So sometimes you get to a point where you’re in a position that you can start giving some of the money back.”

In TIF districts, property taxes that are to go to various bodies are frozen. Subsequent tax increases are diverted into a fund used for infrastructure improvements that can lead to area redevelopment.

By state law, the maximum length of a TIF district is 23 years. If a TIF is active, its revenue can be used for its intended purpose.

“The biggest reason to do this is to keep the TIF alive so we are able to enter into redevelopment agreements to the end of that TIF,” said Amy Davis, the city economic-development director.

The renewed TIF plan lists three potential private projects that might receive funding. They are development of city-owned land at Main and Magnolia streets; expansion of the Ag-Land FS Inc. grain elevator at 215 S. Magnolia St.; and redevelopment of a vacant building at 120 W. Main St.

Regarding public projects, two were listed – possible additional downtown-area parking facilities and possible improvements to and ongoing maintenance of sidewalks and streetscapes.

“Obviously, they’re pretty open-ended, because we don’t have anything firm,” Seghetti said.

On Dec. 14, a joint review board considered the TIF-renewal plan. The board consisted of representatives from all parties affected. A public hearing was held Jan. 18.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion with everybody about this, so everybody knows what’s going on and what the intention is,” Seghetti said.

The new deal is expected to provide the Elmwood School District with about $26,500 in each of the first five years, based on 2021 TIF revenue. That figure was about $92,000, according to Elmwood School Superintendent Chad Wagner. About $66,000 would have been eligible for the 50-50 split.

Elmwood Township is expected to receive about $1,600 annually in that five-year span, the road and bridge fund about $2,100 and the fire-protection district about $2,700.

No non-Elmwood-based regional taxing entity is to receive additional money from the renewed downtown TIF. Those bodies include Peoria County, the Peoria County Soil and Water Conservation District, Illinois Central College and the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria.

Downtown money also is not to be transferred to the other Elmwood TIF district, which includes the Fairground Acres subdivision at the north end of the city. After that TIF district expires, scheduled for 2027, its funds can be transferred downtown.

The downtown TIF was implemented following the 2010 tornado that caused about $85 million in damage in Elmwood. TIF money has been used to help pay for downtown streetscapes and façade improvements, among other things.

“We’re rebating back quite a bit of the TIF revenue with this additional 10 years, so hopefully that’s something that everybody feels comfortable with. I think the council does,” Seghetti said. “Hopefully the other taxing districts are satisfied with it.”

The council also set a May 31 deadline for Ameren Illinois to remove a dirt pile it left at Fairground Acres. Ameren has agreed to remove the dirt sometime this spring, according to City Clerk Bethany Lovingood.