Public Watchdog.org

Will Uptown TIF Tiff Bite Taxpayers In Wallets…Twice?

05.19.14

We’ve been pointing out for years how it’s the taxpayers – present and future – who pay the price for all the incompetence, waste, graft, fraud and corruption to be found in most of the almost 7,000 units of government in Illinois.

Unfortunately, Illinois ranks No. 1 among the 50 United States when it comes to positively rank government, so it’s more than a little annoying to realize that Illinois taxpayers are figuratively pouring truckloads of their tax dollars down various governmental rat holes.  That being the case, it’s even more annoying when local governmental bodies botch their respective jobs so thoroughly that they end up in litigation with each other.

Can you say “taxpayers paying legal bills for both sides of the same dispute”?

That might be what we’ll soon be looking at here in Park Ridge, judging by the stories in last week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (“District 64 to Park Ridge: Pay money owed or go to court,” May 12), the Park Ridge Journal (“City Contests TIF Funds Owed To D64,” May 14) and The Bugle (“Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 demands money from city of Park Ridge,” May 12) about Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 threatening to sue the City of Park Ridge over an approximately $600,000 payment allegedly owed D-64 this year.

And annoyance becomes infuriation upon the realization that this dispute arises from that multi-million dollar albatross dangling around the City’s neck.

Yes, of course we mean the Uptown TIF.

As described in City Finance Director Kent Oliven’s April 11, 2014 Memorandum, the TIF’s originally-projected property tax revenue of $73 million has now been cut by almost 50% (47.5%, to be precise) because of the County’s decision to reduce assessment levels in 2009, and because property values have declined almost seven percent more in the TIF district than the 20% decline in the rest of the City.

As if that news isn’t bad enough, we’re now being told that the TIF-related bonds were “back-end loaded,” meaning that the annual TIF debt service payments will actually increase by an average of over $400,000 a year in 6 of the next 8 years, peaking in a debt service payment of $4.875 million in FY2022.

Those ill-conceived Uptown TIF bond obligations made over a decade ago already have caused the City’s debt rating to be downgraded, raising the City’s borrowing costs even though Moody’s has expressly recognized that current City management is responsibly biting the bullet “is implementing the necessary policies to balance TIF operations and rebuild General Fund liquidity” – through major expense cuts, layoffs, and tax and fee increases.

Needless to say, the City doesn’t have the luxury of wasting money – whether by overpayments to D-64 under the TIF-related September 8, 2003 intergovernmental agreement (a/k/a, “The Bribe Agreement”) or by litigation.  And we can’t imagine D-64 has a spare hundred grand laying around to litigate with the City.

But according to an April 7, 2014 letter from City Mgr. Shawn Hamilton to D-64 Supt. Philip Bender, D-64 has been improperly charging the City for “new students” in the TIF district whose addresses are not in the TIF district and, therefore, don’t qualify for new-student payments.  D-64 allegedly also has been charging the City for half-day pre-K and Kindergarten students for whom D-64 is not entitled to payments.  And the City claims it has been improperly charged for “new students” in the TIF district who aren’t “new” because they moved there from elsewhere inside D-64.

If that isn’t enough to sort out, there’s also a dispute about payments made to D-64 related to “new property” which – according to Matthew Welch, a TIF-specialist attorney hired by the City – may not even legally exist in the TIF district under applicable state law, as interpreted by the Illinois Department of Revenue.  Such “new property” charges might account for almost 3/4 of the City’s annual payment to D-64.

Consequently, it’s possible the City already has overpaid D-64 by millions of dollars over the past 11 years – and may have overpaid D-207 and the Park District, too!

So the City wants a reconciliation of its account with D-64 before coughing up another $600,000 for this year’s installment, which sounds reasonable notwithstanding the apparent lack of any sound justification for somebody(ies) at City Hall being asleep at the switch on this for the past 11 years.

But that’s not what D-64 wants to hear, especially when its own free-spending habits reportedly have made some of its programs and even its class sizes dependent on receiving that annual $600,000 (or so) from the City.  At least that’s what D-64’s leading tax/borrow/spend Board member, attorney John Heyde, is warning – while at the same time suggesting the City is acting in bad faith and attempting to “rewrite history just because [“The Bribe Agreement”] no longer suits [the City].”

So in addition to having the benefit of advice from attorney Dean Krone, who was a member of the D-64 Board back in 2003 and whose school law firm is the District’s regular counsel, D-64 now has hired former D-64 Board member Ares Dalianis of a different school law firm to handle any TIF-related litigation with the City.

Apparently it pays to be a former D-64 Board member who practices school law.

Before this turns into a full-blown legal battle on a collection of wide-ranging issues, however, D-64 owes the City a complete accounting of all the students for whom it has been charging TIF fees under The Bribe Agreement.  That way, the parties should be able to at least narrow the scope of any remaining disputes so that any litigation is as simple, narrow and efficient as it can possibly be.

Ideally, the only issues that would require court resolution would be purely “legal” ones related to whether or not there is – or can be – “new property” within the meaning of the PTELL/”tax cap” statute as interpreted by IDOR, an issue described in greater detail at Pages 4-5 of Hamilton’s April 14, 2014 letter, which would appear to have been written by the City’s TIF attorney.

From the sound of things, both the City’s counsel and D-64’s counsel may have screwed up in their haste to approve The Bribe Agreement 11 years ago.  But the last thing Park Ridge and D-64 taxpayers – not the exact same group of taxpayers, you know – need now is to have that screw-up compound by hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees because two cash-strapped local governmental bodies fighting over the same bone.

Hamilton’s letter seems to lay out the City’s position clearly and straightforwardly.

Where’s D-64’s equally clear and straightforward response?

To read or post comments, click on title.

22 comments so far

It sounds like D-64 is being a bit unreasonable about this, but I am disgusted with yet another problem caused by the TIF. Was anything about that TIF done right?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the construction of the buildings is acceptable or beyond. But the only other “done right” thing we can think of is the intergovernmental arrangement by which the Park District allowed the City to relocate the Uptown reservoir to Hinkley Park rather than run it up to the old City Garage property at Greenwood and Elm, thereby saving the City an estimated $2-3 million in construction costs AND preserving the City Garage property as a salable asset (worth another $2 million?).

But in the interest of full disclosure, this editor was on the Park Board at that time and was actively involved not only in opposition to the Uptown TIF but also in the Hinkley reservoir decisions – so his comments about the value of that intergovernmental arrangement should be considered with that factual background in mind.

You seem to be implying that a “clear and straightforward response” by D-64 will avoid ligation. Two words far ya…….DREAM……ON!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: We didn’t intend to imply that, because we wouldn’t pretend to think that something as fundamentally stupid and as badly executed as the Uptown TIF might yield any reasonable solutions.

Our only hope is that such a response from D-64 will aid the public’s (a/k/a the taxpayers’) understanding of the dispute and enhance its ability to form an opinion on which party, if either, is right, wrong, reasonable, unreasonable, fair, obstructionist, frugal, profligate, etc.

I know the TIF debt is a frightening burden, but c’mon; the project is not merely “acceptable or above,” it’s award-winning and transformative in terms of how the town looks and how it sees itself. I’m sure you find that sentence mawkish snake oil, but others will understand. If the economy hadn’t tanked, you know it would all be different. 20/20 hindsight is fun, but not particularly honest. You opposed it because you’re not a 35-year-old mom of three who would love a little local shopping and casually nice dining. We have that in Houlihan’s, Bluefish, Jason’s Deli (incredible fresh grilled salmon sandwiches, BTW)and tangentially, Chico’s and Jos. A Banks. If Mid-America cared a jot, they’d have made it possible for Amphora to stay and offer its high-style, affordable furniture and accessories. Of course they don’t care, but the economy will come back someday and so will retail. I hope you and I are around to see it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yeah, it’s “award-winning” from those professional fluff-and-stroke organizations that exist solely to slap each other on the back and toot their collective horns.

The City stupidly – or intentionally and quasi-crookedly? – put the taxpayers’ neck in a noose by issuing long-term bonds in order to give the developer multi-millions of dollars of amenities. And it even more stupidly – or intenionally and quasi-crookedly? – built NOTHING into its obligations to protect its taxpayers in the event, however unlikely it might have seemed at the time, that the economy didn’t keep humming along.

Anybody whose brain can even raise “incredible fresh grilled salmon sandwiches” in the context of the City’s projected TIF loss of over $30 MILLION (per Oliven’s 04.11.14 Memorandum) and the potential additional multi-millions of extra interest expense on future bonded debt due to the rating downgrades from the TIF, is somewhere in the imbecile/moron/idiot range. And any “35-year-old mom of three who would love a little local shopping and casually nice dining” that costs the taxpayers $30 MILLION and extra future interest is part of the same brigade.

Next?

In journalism they have a thing called The Money Quote:

“Consequently, it’s possible the City already has overpaid D-64 by millions of dollars over the past 11 years – and may have overpaid D-207 and the Park District, too!”

Wow. Just wow.

To Anonymous: I would gladly forgo a little local shopping and casually nice dining if it would mean my parents could keep their home in Park Ridge. At the rate their taxes are going up, however, it’s becoming more and more unlikely. Please stop speaking for moms with young kids, unless you want to embarass all of us.

Two major points: 1. The City Council had a chance to refinance the TIF debt a year ago right before the election and right after. I was very in favor for this BUT the City Council stated that they did not want to “kick the can down the road” which made NO BUSINESS sense at all. then months after the elections last year the City Council then tried to refinance the TIF cause they saw rates flying upwards; but the City Treasurer stated that it was too late as rates jumped back up–COSTING the city a savings of roughly 1 to 3 MILLION DOLLARS EVERY YEAR for the TIF loan. Yet, I see no mention from anyone about the failure of city council to have acted on this.
2. When parents have complained about paying the HIGHEST student fees in the country with NO TRANSPARENCY or accountability of where that money was going (since many believe it is going for supplies that the state by law has to cover) and then withheld their payments until they get that transparency, you called them DEADBEATS…doesn’t matter that they were getting screwed by this, they needed to pay. YET, when the city now finds that they are “possibly” being overcharged and screwed, it is okay for them to “withhold” payment. They are not “DEADBEATS”. Let’s be fair in our criticism and name calling.
Why not call out the aldermen and mayors (former or current) that have failed to refinance the TIF as well as signing the deal with the school board to allow these charges? It is always these failures that come back to bite the tax payers. Please…we are still paying our city attorney over 300K a year for part time work and MAYBE the city will replace his firm….
Anyway here is our city Treasurer’s response about refinancing or lack of—
“As stated in many prior Council meetings and COWs, the City does not have the opportunity to advance refund the Uptown TIF (or other G.O.) bonds because of required negative arbitrage payments.
As the City’s Treasurer, I (Kent) monitor and manage the City’s debt on a frequent basis, utilizing data and knowledge provided by William Blair’s John Petersoniv. In late May, Shawn, John, and I analyzed the savings of refunding the TIF bonds when called, versus the additional negative arbitrage costs of advance refunding the bonds. At that time, advance refunding the 2005 & 2006 Uptown TIF bonds on 12/1/13 would have yielded a present value savings of $2,091,740 – after negative arbitrage payments. At the same time, waiting to refund at the call dates, which ranged from 12/1/13 to 12/1/16, would have yielded a present value of $3,371,899v, if interest rates remained constant. Unfortunately, the economy started heating up and the Fed indicated an eventual end to its huge bond buying program. That has caused a dramatic drop in bond prices, raising yields as I write this to a 52 week high.
I called Mr. Peterson after the markets closed today (Thursday, June 20, 2013). Over the prior month rates had moved so dramatically that it was possible that most of the savings shown above had evaporated. Mr. Peterson said that he will get an up to date assessment Monday morning for distribution at Monday’s meeting. However, he warned that the assessment’s numbers are likely to fluctuate wildly in the short-term based upon current market conditions. ”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Several “major points”:
1. There is no “City Treasurer” and there hasn’t been one since before Schmidt became mayor in 2009.

2. As we recall, the bonds weren’t callable at that time without a significant penalty that the City Council – with advice from the City’s Finance Director and its bond consultant D.H. Blair – did not want to incur while the expectation was that interest rates would stay low until the “call penalty” was extinguished.

3. We call anybody who unilaterally withholds money legally owed to one of our governmental bodies a “deadbeat” because that’s what he/she/they are. If you don’t like the “NO TRANSPARENCY” you’re getting from D-64, the answer is to show up at THOSE meetings and beef, or elect different Board members, or file a lawsuit to get a court determination of whether or not the charge is legal. But simply not paying is the mark of a “deadbeat” – especially when these parents already are getting thousands of dollars of FREE education for their kids.

4. At this point the City has engaged a TIF attorney who apparently has advised it that it DOESN’T OWE D-64 the money D-64 claims. Have YOU or any of the deadbeat parents ENGAGED AN ATTORNEY who has advised that they don’t owe D-64 those fees?

5. If we believed the current City Council SHOULD have refi-ed before now, we would call out the mayor and the aldermen on it. But we have no proof that they made the wrong decision, given the penalty for advance refunding bonds that are not callable.

6. There’s a Council meeting in another half-hour. We are sure that between the City Mgr and the City Finance Director they can answer every question you have.

Dear Mary:

If it is really “becoming more and more unlikely”, perhaps you should urge your parents to put the ole’ homestead on the market and see what they can get.

Ya see there are big increases coming down the pike that are “on the books”, so to speak. The structure or the TIF that the author of this blog has documented is not in mommy and daddy’s favor. Beyond that, D207 just got an increase and to make matters worse, mommy and daddy’s neighbors (at least those who voted) decided to increase their taxes to buy more Park land. Do your parents play paddle tennis??

So to summarize, if things are really that close for you parents now it is going to bury them over the next few years……even if our elected officials cut things to the bone from now on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And how, exactly, does that make anything Mary said about 35-year-old moms of three who prefer a little local shopping and casual dining for $30 million on the taxpayers’ tab, untrue?

5WT, you nailed it. I’m curious if this turns out to be the case, does the city have any chance of not only getting out of continuing to overpay those various bodies, but potentially using past over-payments to offset the amount of future amounts due (with or without interest included)?

Also one has to wonder, if D64 has become dependent on their $600K, what about the park district with their portion? I wonder how much this “free money” was being factored into Mountcastle’s decision to take on massive amounts of debt for her two projects, of which the YC park has ridiculously optimistic (ie: unrealistic) revenue projections.

And to Anon 8:49- you are beyond ridiculous. I might spend too much time on other parts of the internet, but I almost couldn’t believe you weren’t simply trolling! Something sounded a little to earnest about your arguments though… Anyway, if you “cared” so much about Amphora, why didn’t you take on a second mortgage to help them pay their rent?

It has a little ring to the $220 per child fee they charge the parents. Just pay the fee, you don’t need to know the specifics behind it. Parents have been asking for years what this fee exactly covers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If those parents truly “have been asking for years what this fee exactly covers” and haven’t received an answer, then they should have showed up at Board meetings and demanded explanations; and if they didn’t get them, run their own candidates for the school board. But the easiest way is to be a deadbeat and just not pay, knowing that it might take the D-64 administrators years to collect – without interest, of course.

Regardless of whether the city has overpaid D-64 or not, D-64 is not hurting for cash and $600k is not make or break for the district. According to the district’s FY13 year-end audit (http://www.d64.org/subsite/dist/page/financial-data-prior-years-751), the district had $42.1 million of General Fund cash on hand at year-end. That’s equivalent to 222 days cash on hand. $600k is also about 3x times what the district budgets for interest earnings on that cash pile. It’s also about 2/3rds of what D-64 charges in textbook fees.

Having cash is a good thing and I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of the TIF agreement between the city and related government entities. That said, any claim that D-64 is desperately in need of the $600k just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Just got an email —

Dear District 64 Families:

Tonight, I will be making a statement at our Board meeting on behalf of our entire Board addressing a very critical issue. As this directly impacts your family, I wanted to share my statement with you. A timeline about the TIF agreement follows at the end to give you a clear picture of the recent interchange and the City of Park Ridge and District 64.

I encourage you to contact the Board with any concerns.

Dr. Anthony H. Borrelli, Board President

District 64 Board President Dr. Anthony Borrelli Statement on TIF Agreement
May 19, 2014 Board of Education Meeting

I would like to make a few comments at this time to the people of Park Ridge and to the constituents of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, including our school families; PTO/As; taxpayers; local business, civic and community organizations; and our District educators and staff.

I speak tonight on behalf of the entire Board of Education. Each of my Board colleagues has had an opportunity to review and comment on this statement and we stand unified in our position on this critical issue.

As you probably know through our local media, District 64 on Friday, May 9, delivered a letter to the Park Ridge City Council demanding that the City meet its long-overdue financial obligation to the District under terms of the Uptown TIF agreement. The purpose of the 2003 intergovernmental contractual agreement, willingly entered into by both parties, was to partially offset the TIF’s impact on the funds available to District 64 to educate our students.

To quote from the 2003 agreement: “The economic health of the City depends on continuing redevelopment efforts on the part of the City and continuing efforts by the school district to provide high quality education.” It goes on to say that: “economic development should not come at the expense of the financial well-being of the school district.”

That statement is as true today as it was in 2003.

Although members of the City Council publicly professed surprise at receiving our May 9 letter, we’re not sure why given the letter they had sent us just four weeks earlier.

In their letter dated April 7, not only did the City say it had no obligation to pay District 64 this year, but it also concluded that the original agreement itself was invalid. In other words, they don’t owe us a dime and never did – notwithstanding their long record of annual payments as well as the legal original intent of the agreement to provide for revenue sharing. The April 7 letter from the City marked the first time in the 15 weeks since the payment has been due that District 64 was informed that the City had concerns over the New Property payments along with the City’s decision to unilaterally invalidate the agreement.

The City concluded the letter by saying it was “committed to working with the School District in order to resolve these matters in an amicable and cooperative manner.” That sounds great, but we did not see anything resembling an “amicable” resolution in the City’s letter nor offering to conduct further communication.

We would describe the April 7 letter from the City as an emphatic “NO” to our simple and reasonable request that the City live up to its financial obligations – as it has done routinely each year since 2003. Certainly, the April 7 letter was not an invitation for further dialogue and compromise.

In other words, after 11 years of meeting its legal if not moral obligation to the students, families and taxpayers of District 64, the City suddenly had second thoughts and will not make the contracted payment.

One concern that the City proclaims it has is that the New Student Data, which the New Student portion of the fee is based on, is inaccurate. We, the Board, would like to make clear tonight that the District was fully committed to working cooperatively with the City to ensure the TIF payments were accurate before the City cut a check. Between January 9 and May 6 of this year, our senior staff reached out to the City no fewer than 11 times to provide information to help the City determine the exact amount it owed, ask about the status of the payment that had been due in mid-December, or address some other issue.

Not a single one of us sitting around the Board table here tonight wants to wind up in a legal fight with the City. But given the April 7 letter from the City, we had only two options for responding:

Option One would mean abdicating our positions as fiscal stewards of District 64’s finances and just letting the City do whatever it wants – which means walking away from funds owed to the District and already factored into this year’s budget and our long-range financial plan.
Option Two would mean standing up for the children, families and taxpayers who elected us and demanding that the City meet its commitments or face legal action. One year ago the District placed this revenue source in the budget without any doubt or indication that there were concerns over its collection. Without the money the City owes District 64, we are looking at a diminished budget, potential program cuts and larger class sizes.
I think it’s abundantly clear that this Board decided it had only one option – which we exercised in our May 9 letter.

The City can remedy this situation immediately. The City can and should provide a prompt and full payment of the funds that were due on December 15, 2013 and which were included almost one year ago within the District 64 2013-14 budget. Once that has been accomplished, the District is committed to continue to cooperate and work with the City to discuss ways to resolve concerns in the future and avoid legal expenses which ultimately will further drain precious resources from both sides.

Before closing, I’d like to express a personal view that I know my colleagues share.

It’s not easy getting embroiled in a public dispute in your hometown, with people you know – who may be friends or neighbors or even just acquaintances.

I know the members of the City Council are good people doing their best to represent what they believe are the best interests of Park Ridge. Those of us on the District 64 Board are doing our best to represent the best interests of our constituents and the community at large.

This is difficult enough without resorting to the kind of disparaging comments we heard from the Council table last week regarding one of the members of our Board. A public personal attack on any member of this Board is an attack on us all, and we will not tolerate it.

Whatever happens, I hope that each of our elected bodies can maintain civility and respect as this situation plays out.

And finally, I want to thank my colleagues for their unity, and thank the community for its patience and understanding as we work through this challenging issue.

Uptown TIF Timeline

2003 – TIF fund created between the City of Park Ridge and Districts 64 and 207 as well as the Park Ridge Park District. New Student and New Property Payments have been made, where applicable, by the City to each entity in accordance with the original intention of the agreement for the past 11 years.

September 2013 – The City contacts District 64 to have everyone “on the same page” regarding the Kane McKenna Report and the Strategic Plan for the City of Park Ridge that was developed from that report. At this time there was no mention of any concerns with past or future TIF payment obligations to District 64.

December 15, 2013 – The due date of the TIF payment from the City to District 64. No comment or explanations are provided by the City as to why the due date is missed.

February 27, 2014 – Letter is submitted from District 64 to the City requesting payment of funds, which are now 9 weeks old.

March 13, 2014 – The District receives the first written indication from the City that there are concerns about New Student calculations used and payments made to the District.

January 2014 – May 2014 – Multiple contacts between the City and the District to resolve any ongoing concerns that the City had about the validity of the Data. To the District’s knowledge all concerns have been resolved to the satisfaction of the City’s Finance Director.

April 7, 2014 – The District receives a letter from the City stating that they will not pay any portion of the funds owed as they have ongoing concerns about the New Student Data and feel that the New Property component is flawed and void.

May 9, 2014 – Letter to the City stating the City has an obligation to pay based on the original intent of the agreement and corrected Data.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Two crucial points are missing from president Borrelli’s statement:

(1) he fails to state that D-64 has provided all of the accounting information the City claims it needs to determine whether the student-count numbers are accurate; and

(2) he fails to respond to the rather detailed explanation by the City – as experessed in City Mgr. Hamilton’s April 7, 2014, letter – challenging the fundamental existence of City’s “new property” obligation that might represent millions of dollars in City OVERPAYMENTS to D-64 over the past 11 years.

Just because the City has been stupid or negligent for 11 years is no justification for demanding that it continue to be so.

Did I say that anything Mary stated was untrue?? Is there anything I said in my post that was untrue??

I was simply offering her some free (and indisputable) advice. If a person is teetering on the edge of being taxed out of PR right now, they had better be investigating options because, as I stated in the previous post, taxes are going up based on money already spent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, not necessarily “untrue,” just incredibly stupid to the extent you dismiss the City’s wasting of $30 million on the TIF for the questionable benefit of “a 35-year-old mom of three who would love a little local shopping and casually nice dining.”

Incredibly stupid bordering on demented.

This entire TIF deal has become one hell of a Charlie Foxtrot, or in military terms a cluster F*&K!!!

I didn’t realize that the City was paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to the school districts over the years. So they set their budgets with the expectations that they will receive those revenue amounts.

Now the school districts will raise their tax burden, the City will raise they tax burden, and who is getting screwed? The home owners!!!

I don’t know anything about TIFs and their legal structure, but is there anyway for the City to take out a 30 year debt issue, pay off the TIF obligations, and have the debt service be equal on an annual basis? I don’t even know if that is financially feasible or if it is more costly, but some type analysis needs to be completed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The City is planning to refinance the bonds once they become “callable” – at which time, hopefully, the interest rate available on the refi will be lower than on the bonds. As we understand it, it was the penalty for early calling of the bonds that prevented a refi up til now.

Where did I dismiss it???? Show me where. Mary made a statement and I gave advice. Are you suggesting that Mary’s parents, who apparently are just barely getting by paying their tax bill today, NOT investigate other options?? The city has a HUGE bill due and the PD and Schools continue to spend more money. It is what it is. Hopefully it will change over time but if you are a family in PR who is borderline at the moment with no foreseeable windfall in the near future you are in trouble.

How on earth is that dismissive??

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Mary” made a statement critical of a particular mindset and illustrated the consequences of that mindset on her parents. You chose to ignore the mindset and focus on her parents.

Stupid, but not unexpected. The greedy and the shameless, as well as their apologists, always strive for misdirection when their policy argument is a loser.

I’m loving this. My relatively innocuous case history-ette of the luckless mom has launched a whole flight of non sequiteur attacks and counter-attacks. Nobody’s saying salmon is more important than savings,and I wish I could hang on for my kids the way my parents were able to for me — on one income, BTW. We are in the twilight of the gods, folks, and no mistake. But given the City’s anal refusal to refinance when everybody in his or her right mind did, you can’t keep blaming the long-ago TIF-sters for all our ills. The situation has never been static and elected officials have had choices to make all down the road. That didn’t end with the original TIF-deal aldermen, much as you’d like to cast the later officials as helpless victims. I still believe the TIF will prove worthwhile in the long run, but what’s sad now is the rats fighting to escape the sinking ship mentality of D64 and the City. It’s all coming out of one pocketbook, guys; why should we compound the problem with more legal bills, all of which the taxpayer will pay? OPM indeed. The silo effect is in full force. D64 and the City truly don’t get that it’s all one to us. That said, I am troubled by the City’s possible deadbeat stance; particularly the currently pitiless philosophy toward other deadbeats in which it is so proud. I call this the Walmart approach: It’s amazing how fast you can build wealth if you just don’t pay your obligations. What is really needed is some San Francisco-style pressure on the contract with the TIF developer. Like that’ll ever happen.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Your’s wasn’t a “luckless mom” but a greedy and selfish mom “who would love a little local shopping and casually nice dining” made possible by the Uptown TIF that is now projected to actually cost the City $30 million (and already has cost it $6 million)

As for the City’s “anal refusal to refinance when everybody in his or her right mind did,” you seem to be viewing the City’s General Obligation bonds as if they were a home mortgage. Presumably, that misguided view stems from the fact that you don’t understand that such GO bonds are not able to be refinanced willy nilly but need to become callable, and then usually can only be refinanced upon paying a premium to the bondholder.

And that’s another reason why “the original TIF-deal aldermen” so badly screwed the City and why, despite your Pollyanna belief that “the TIF will prove worthwhile in the long run” the City’s TIF consultants are now projecting a $30 million loss in “the long run” of the TIF’s 23 year life.

And, no, it’s NOT “all coming out of one pocketbook, because not all D-64 taxpayers are Park Ridge taxpayers. But if it were all coming out of one pocket, then by advocating for letting D-64 keep money to which it may not be legally entitled you are effectively choosing teacher and administrator raises, or Chromebooks, over cop and fireman raises, or flood control.

And thanks to the “redevelopment agreement” signed by the City with developer PRC, there’s no chance whatsover of putting “some San Francisco-style pressure on the contract with the TIF developer.” Feel free thank then-acting mayor Mike Marous and then-aldermen Mike Tinaglia and Don Crampton (1st), Rich DiPietro and John Benka (2nd), Sue Bell and Andrea Bateman (3rd), Sue Beaumont and Howard Frimark (4th), Mark Anderson and Dawn Disher (5th), Rex Parker (6th) and Larry Friel and Jeff Cox (7th) for that agreement.

With over 5 years in office, and with a clear majority of his own “guys” (alder puppets) as City Council members, at what point should the taxpayers stop accepting the TIF as an excuse?

To George’s point, I’ve heard lots of complaining and excuse-making about the TIF, but NO action.

Wonder if Ryles won, how the narrative would’ve changed on this website?

Very good article above. My takeaway: Not only is this Mayor and Council clueless on easing the TIF hurt, but is and was clueless on administration of it. Could that be characterized as COMPLETE failure? Let’s not debate the TIF, it’s already happened. Having no solutions only exacerbates the harm.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s the problem with locking in bonded debt over 20+ years: you also handcuff the public officials who come afterward.

But feel free to provide us with your chapter and verse of how the City’s TIF-related bonded debt can be refinanced right now, and could have been refinanced a year/two/three ago – and what the savings would have been. Better yet, show up at next week’s City Council meeting (Tuesday, May 27) and give the Mayor and the Council that chapter and verse.

This is getting interesting.

Help us out, Dear Editor…has the city asked clear questions about the accounting of these payments, and has the school district provided clear answers?

Has there been a public, face-to-face exchange of views and facts between the two bodies, or representatives of those bodies, to sift through this?

Is there any similar dispute between the City and D-207 or the Park District? Or is this dispute limited to D-64?

Regarding Borrelli’s letter, a couple of observations.

One: It’s addressed to “District 64 Families” but my household, which merely sends tax money to D-64 but no children, did not receive the email. Does D-64 only represent the families who have enrolled children in the schools?

Two: I almost spit out my coffee when he said the school board wouldn’t be put in the position of “abdicating our positions as fiscal stewards of District 64’s finances.” It seems to me they abdicate those positions on a regular basis.

I know, because my property tax bill keeps going up. And I don’t even get an email in return. What ingrates.

I hope the adults involved here can meet and get this sorted out instead of hiring lawyers to do it for them.

What a sad spectacle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “[H]as the city asked clear questions about the accounting of these payments, and has the school district provided clear answers?” As best as we can tell, the answer is “no” and “no” – and shame on both of them for that.

“Has there been a public, face-to-face exchange of views and facts between the two bodies, or representatives of those bodies, to sift through this?” No.

“Is there any similar dispute between the City and D-207 or the Park District? Or is this dispute limited to D-64?” We believe that, so far, it has been limited to D-64 because what D-207 gets from the City re the TIF is not nearly as substantial as what D-64 gets, relatively speaking.

We agree with you that D-64’s Board members abdicate their positions as fiscal stewards of District 64’s finances “on a regular basis.”

WOW, you really want to play with words? The Finance Department is managed by Director of Finance Kent Oliven–Who by all means is the city treasurer as he noted himself in his talk with city council– “As the City’s Treasurer, I (Kent) monitor and manage the City’s debt on a frequent basis,”
It was noted by KENT, the “finance director” that the city would of saved over 2 MILLION dollars if they refinance early and paid the penalty but if they wait and rates do NOT move then they will save over 3 MILLION. KENT, the “fiance director” stated that rates HAVE gone up and therefore there is no savings by refinancing. You understand that?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, he’s NOT the City Treasurer, which is an elective office that was eliminated several years ago after being held by Carl Brauweiller for many years. And Mr. Oliven calling himself that doesn’t make it so.

Absent chapter and verse of where it comes from we don’t even accept its accuracy.

After reading the mayors letter on this issue, it seems that an accounting has been requested and that 64, rather than wait for one or provide the info on their side for that accounting, wants to jump the gun and sue. That says everything about what is going on. I’m not an attorney, but I know that the one who doesn’t want the accounting is the one with something to hide.

EDITOR’S NOTE: D-64 doesn’t want to sue, they just want to intimidate the City into making another payment, even if it’s another overpayment.

And City Staff (Hamilton and Oliven) and D-64 Staff (Bender and Allard) should have had this information exchanged months ago, but it sounds like both staffs may have been less forthcoming and diligent than they had any right to be – especially with this much money at stake. At around $700K, cumulatively, a year in salaries, the taxpayers deserve better than what they’ve gotten from these folks so far.

Seems to me that instead of writing a letter to “D-64 Families”, Mr. Borrelli should be picking up the phone to call Mr. Schmidt and initiate a meeting. This is not an issue where one can say “we have people for that”. You guys are the “people” — or at least the people’s representatives, and we’d rather you spend your time on our issue than spend our money on your lawyers.

In fairness, Mr. Schmidt could call Mr. Borrelli, too.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we said in response to the previous comment, City Staff (Hamilton and Oliven) and D-64 Staff (Bender and Allard), with their cumulative salaries of around $700K, should have had all the “new student” information exchanged months ago so that Schmidt and Borrelli would have something concrete to talk about – other than just “It looks like we’ve overpaid you folks” (Schmidt) and “Too bad, that’s what we’ve come to expect from you.” (Borrelli)

What would the penalty of been for refinancing the TIF before it is callable? Cost vs Savings? Anyone have the #s?

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we understand it, until the bond is callable it CANNOT be refinanced. Period.

Once it becomes callable, there is a significant premium/penalty that has to be paid and which has to be balanced against whatever savings is projected on the refi interest rate.

Didn’t this editor, while on the park board, vote against the TIF?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, along with Dean Krone, then-pres. of the D-64 Board.

Voting “for” the TIF were the reps from D-207, Maine Twp., Crook County, and the “public rep” – an elderly lady from Summit Square whose selection was rumored to have been arranged by Summit Square manager Marc Dennison and whom Dennison instructed to vote “yes” because he believed the Uptown TIF project would increase the value of the Summit Square property and also leverage some facade improvement money.



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