"WE ARE D300 AND IT'S OUR TURN!"
School tax limit nixed; D300 keeps eye on Sears proposals
By Emily McFarlan email@example.com November 8, 2011 9:52PM
Updated: November 9, 2011 2:31AM
SPRINGFIELD — State lawmakers have rejected a measure that would have prevented school districts in tax-capped counties, including Kane and all Chicago’s collar counties, from raising their tax rates if their property values dropped.
House Bill 3793 was voted down in the Illinois House when lawmakers reconvened Tuesday for the veto session in Springfield, according to the Illinois General Assembly website.
The bill also would have impacted general state aid appropriations for all Illinois school districts.
And that made Community Unit School District 300 “optimistic” about several other pieces of legislation that would affect the district’s property tax dollars, according to Superintendent Michael Bregy.
Optimistic, Bregy said, “but cautious, as this is the third time legislation has been created at the 11th hour without our input.”
He was talking about an amendment to keep Sears and other businesses in Illinois — added Monday to another bill, Senate Bill 397, by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago.
A nearly identical amendment to House Bill 1883 was filed Tuesday by state Sen. Senator Toi W. Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights, and referred to the Senate Executive Committee that evening. That bill was co-sponsored by state Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, who also had sponsored Senate Bill 540 and said during the first three days of the veto session last month he was drafting a compromise.
Both amendments would extend the economic development area (EDA) around Sears corporate headquarters in Hoffman Estates for another 15 years. That’s something District 300 has opposed for months, when it first was proposed in an amendment to Senate Bill 540.
That’s because the Carpentersville-area school district only would have received $2.9 million of the roughly $16 million in property taxes generated each year by the EDA under Senate Bill 540, according to the district. The rest would have gone back into the EDA.
Under both Senate Bill 397 and House Bill 1883, District 300 would receive nearly twice that amount — more than $5.9 million, according to the district.
And House Bill 1883 requires the EDA to be audited, a provision that was missing from Senate Bill 397, Kotowski said.
“That’s what I was worried about,” he said.
Otherwise, both bills include the same framework that Kotowski said he had pushed for in a compromise last month: Both would double the amount all 14 taxing districts within the EDA receive, require Sears to keep 4,250 jobs in Illinois, and penalize the company if it left the state, he said.
In a written release Monday night, Bregy had called the amendment to Senate Bill 397 “horribly wasteful in reaching its goal of keeping Sears here.” That’s because it would allow the village of Hoffman Estates to continue collecting money from the area if Sears left and use that money to operate the Sears Centre Arena, according to that release.
The district also has pushed for a compromise that would require an audit and joint review committee over the EDA.
District 300 leaders are in Springfield this week, hoping to push lawmakers to make some of those changes before voting on any legislation. Bregy, Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Crates and district parent Kathleen Burley of Algonquin testified against the amendment to Senate Bill 397 before the House Revenue & Finance Committee Tuesday evening and planned to testify against House Bill 1883 before the Senate Executive Committee.
Sears deal talks creep forward
By Mike Riopell
Daily Herald Article updated: 10/27/2011 4:56 PM
Daily Herald Article updated: 10/27/2011 4:56 PM
SPRINGFIELD — State lawmakers trying to craft a deal to keep Sears Holdings Corp. in Illinois have received a compromise package of tax incentive proposals from the retail giant.
Lawmakers and the company would not make specifics of the proposal public, but the company continues to ask for its property tax deal with Hoffman Estates to be extended as well as job-creation incentives such as those received by Navistar in Warrenville and Motorola Mobility in Libertyville.
Like Sears, those companies had said they were considering leaving Illinois if incentives weren’t approved.
Suburban lawmakers will convene next week to try to draft compromise legislation that could be voted on the following week during the final three days of the legislative session this year.
Sears officials have said they’ll make a decision whether to leave Illinois by the end of the year.
“We’re just trying to reconcile,” said Rep. Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat.
Lawmakers have to reconcile Sears’ request with the sometimes-competing views of the village of Hoffman Estates and Community Unit District 300, which says it needs the money it could get if Sears’ 20-year-old tax breaks were allowed to expire next year.
Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, said he wants to see Sears’ present tax deal extended, penalties put in place if the company leaves Hoffman Estates and more money made available to District 300.
But details still would have to be worked out. The legislative session resumes Nov. 8 for three days.
Dist. 300 eyes next steps in Sears tax break battle
By Emily McFarlan firstname.lastname@example.org October 27, 2011 9:14PM
The first part of the veto session in the Illinois Senate ended Thursday without a vote on Senate Bill 540 and with a promise for when that session resumes next month from Community Unit School District 300 Superintendent Michael Bregy.
“We will have a bigger and more productive presence than we had this week. We’re working out those details as I speak,” Bregy said.
“It’s our last hope.”
Bregy was one of about 30 District 300 parents, students and staff who spent the veto session in Springfield, lobbying state senators against Senate Bill 540.
An amendment to that bill would extend tax breaks for the economic development area surrounding Sears’ corporate headquarters in Hoffman Estates for another 15 years. The EDA already has been in place for 23 years.
District 300 has protested that extension, maintaining it would mean about $14 million in property taxes would go to the EDA instead of the school district, which includes part of that area. Meantime, Sears has said it wants only to recoup the $125 million it originally invested in the infrastructure of the EDA. It also has said without those breaks, relocation offers from cities such as Austin, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio, would look more attractive.
The week began with a protest Monday by about 1,000 parents, students and staff from District 300 outside the Illinois State Capitol, followed by the district’s presentation of a plan for a compromise on the amendment. That proposal is something Bregy said Senate Bill 540 sponsor Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, had requested during a meeting involving the senator, the district and Sears officials on the “eve of the veto session” last week.
On Wednesday, Senate Bill 540 co-sponsor Heather Steans, D-Chicago, removed her name from the bill. That came after Kotowski confirmed he was working on a new bill, a compromise that would keep Sears in Illinois, require the company to add more jobs, and increase the money District 300 receives from the EDA.
Steans said Thursday she removed her name because she has no idea what the bill will become and whether she will support it.
The original Senate Bill 540 requires administrators of tax increment financing districts to complete training and certification, as well as post audit reports and intergovernmental agreements online. And, Steans said, “I think we need to have more transparency with TIFs.”
Only Amendment 3 mentions the Sears EDA, and she said, “That’s not what I was really signing up for.”
Kotowski said he hopes his new bill will be voted on in the veto session Nov. 8-10 and believes TIF reform will be presented again in separate legislation. Several municipalities, including Chicago, have had some issues with the original bill, and it also needs clarification, he said.
And while Sears won’t confirm rumors it has presented its own compromise plan to senators, spokesman Chris Brathwaite said, “We had very productive meetings in Springfield this week, and we are encouraged by the progress thus far.”
Kotowski agreed. “I’m excited about the progress we’ve made.”
“What’s important to me is the whole issue facing the state: How do we keep jobs here, but how do we address some of the challenges facing education funding?”
ILLINOIS REVIEW 10/25/2011
Missing points about Dist. 300's EDA controversy
Your article on the Sears Economic Development Area (EDA) missed some very important points.
The issue with the EDA, which is about to expire next year, was passed as a "23-year tax reinvestment zone" to protect the office park Sears moved to back in 1989. The property is within the boundary of Carpentersville-based Community Unit School District 300 (D300), so D300 property tax payers have been denied the full share of the property tax revenues from this property as the result of the legislation from Governor Thompson.
A background on the EDA establishment can be found in this video released Friday by the village of Hoffman Estates:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlBnzYedqds
Please note, the property tax revenues Hoffman Estates says has been paid to D300 since the mid 1990s is a small fraction D300 is entitled to, based on the property wealth of the EDA. D300 estimates it will lose ~$14 million/year property tax revenues due to the EDA extension, and this is what D300 proponents want to protect for the future when the original EDA duration expires next year.
The legislation that is being opposed is House Amendment #3 to Senate Bill 540, which the senate may take up in the fall veto session. This amendment allows municipalities (in the case of Sears, village of Hoffman Estates) the sole discretion to pass these kinds of tax breaks/economic incentives, and excludes all taxing bodies impacted by these kinds of decisions.
The original intention of the EDA was to give a temporary reprieve of property taxes by allowing the property taxes to be more greatly reinvested into the EDA itself. The thinking was, after 23 years, the necessary infrastructure built up would be in place and the EDA property taxes could then be collected, in full, by the property taxing bodies where the EDA is located. As all know, local school districts consume nearly 2/3s of the local property tax bill, and since the entire EDA is located within D300 boundaries, D300 property taxpayers has been paying the brunt of this subsidized tax break.
And now, at the end of the 23 years, Sears is claiming it will leave Illinois if it cannot keep this EDA's property tax provisions for another 15 years. The legislation in question, allows for a municipality to extend an EDA up to 15 years, as long as the original EDA has not yet expired. Sounds like the tollways, right before the bonds were paid off and the tollways could become freeways, the state changed the rules. That's what's happening here. And finally, I would be remiss, while Sears' corporate campus and many other businesses built in the EDA have economic benefits, the white elephant in the EDA, the struggling Sears Centre, was a result of the EDA legislation, too.
It is my opinion Sears is bluffing with a move out-of-state. There is no guarantee Sears will stay solely by the passage of the EDA extension, nor prevent Sears from playing the same song 15 years from now to avoid paying its full share of property taxes to the local school district. I strongly agree with the Chicago Tribune editorial from last Wednesday, which can be found here http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-sears-20111019,0,5622403.story and points out a better incentive package should be worked between the state and Sears to keep Sears in Illinois without unfairly burdening the students and taxpayers of D300.
Since the EDA does not expire until September 2012, and a Sears
move out-of-state could not possibly be completed by then, the EDA
vote should NOT be held during the fall veto session, but instead,
taken up during the spring session next year. Between now and
then, all local governments impacted by Sears can be active
participants in the negotiations in the long-term incentives to keep
Sears in Illinois. And by all local governments, this includes
the Community Unit School District 300 Board of Education, who have
the greatest risk in the future of Sears in Hoffman Estates.
The Oncoming Storm
(This writer has identified himself/herself to IR's Editor and Publisher and that identity will remain protected at his/her request)
D300 Proposes Compromise to Keep Sears in Illinois
Savannah Ziegelbauer: Algonquin Patch
D300 supporters are left to wait and see whether the Senate will cover Senate Bill 540 during the veto session that starts Oct. 25 or if it will be postponed it until spring 2012.
District 300 has presented its own plan for keeping Sears in the state, which includes compromises from each of the four parties—D300, Hoffman Estates, the state of Illinois and Sears.
Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, who is the sponsor of the legislation, said he’s working on his own set of proposals that would keep Sears in Hoffman Estates and also send more money to District 300, according to an article in the Daily Herald. Details are still being worked out on Kotowski's plan.
Sears is asking for a 15-year extension of the EDA to collect $125 million the company said it made in initial infrastructure investments. The company has threatened to move if Illinois doesn't come up with another set of tax breaks.
Highlights from D300’s proposed compromise:
- The legislation should name Sears and specifically require Sears - not "the developer" and not "the development" - to maintain 4,000 jobs in the EDA. Right now, Amendment 3 only requires the entire EDA property to maintain 4,000 jobs, which includes many other businesses besides Sears.
- If Sears moves away from Illinois, the EDA should automatically expire.
- An audit be required for the EDA, just like for traditional Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIFs). It should be overseen by a Joint Review Committee, which includes representatives of District 300, Hoffman Estates, and the other taxing bodies within the EDA like parks and libraries.
- Each of the four parties - D300, Sears, Hoffman Estates, and the State - contributes $2 million a year for the next 15 years. Instead of D300 getting an additional $14 million a year in school property taxes from the EDA, it would only get $12 million. Instead of Hoffman Estates getting $5 million a year to manage the EDA, the village would only get $3 million. The State of Illinois would find a way to chip in $2 million a year. Sears would reduce its goal by $2 million a year. As soon as Sears reaches its overall goal of $125 million, the EDA would automatically expire.
Although this week's Senate veto session has already started, it will meet again Nov. 8, where the Sears legislation, or Amendment 3 of Senate Bill 540, may be covered. Sears said it will decide by yearend whether to leave Illinois, according to Crain's Chicago Business.