TIF Option Considered for Dempster Street

Attendees rally around TIF option at public input session.

In a public forum on Thursday night, Morton Grove residents leaned toward TIF (tax increment finance) districting to improve business on Dempster Street. Read more on the meeting . 

The plan would be to redistribute property taxes to a designated area that the village believes is incapable of luring private investment. The reallocation of taxes is enabled by freezing other taxing bodies' shares upon TIF creation, said Community and Economic Development Director John Said.

Said, who worked on local planning for Elmhurst before taking his current job in Morton Grove, described a TIF district as a "strategy for positive change" that has been widely successful in other village zones, including along Waukegan Road and between Lehigh and Ferris avenues, where an expanded Pequod's restaurant is planned. You can read about it .

"I equate it to an investment into retirement," Said said. "We invest in it and we pay it off and we reap the benefits from it."

Reactions from the audience

Most workshop participants agreed that TIF taxing would be the appropriate route, too. Economic development chairman David Lewis, who acted as one of four meeting moderators, told Said at the session's conclusion that his attendee group had no negative comments about TIF districting.

"Our group was unanimous," Lewis said. "They said the TIF was the most beneficial, the most lucrative, at this point."

Trustees' input

But beyond that consensus, residents offered varying views of how to generally improve Dempster Street. They were asked to address four discussion questions in groups, including an open-ended inquiry about the corridor's future.

Some speakers, including Village Trustee Shel Marcus advocated a complete overhaul of the street's commercial image.

"You have to brand it, and you have to come up with an idea to do it," he said, adding that such an ambitious goal cannot be achieved with "just a parking lot."

Village Trustee Dan DiMaria concurred that carefully crafting the Dempster stretch into an attractive destination would be ideal.

"You make it an attraction," he said. "They'll come."

Pat Craig May 26, 2011 at 12:46 PM
"Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts – I Know What I Think" seems to be the mantra of some of the commentators. That is unfortunate, because personal opinion and political agenda presented as fact is, at best, disingenuous. I am not a fan of TIF's in general. I see them as municipal welfare that has turned many businesses into hogs feeding at the public trough. It has become an unfortunate fact of public life that without the TIF tax incentive "bribe" an enterprise will shop competing towns to get the most "vigorish" out of the citizenry. TIF's seem to be viewed by every suburb as a means of inexpensive financing of a pet project. Such a perspective leads to the possibility of TIF abuse. When bond issuers and real estate brokers are touting the TIF as a no-lose proposition and the local municipal leaders fail to objectively analyze their true needs, the taxpayers will be the ones ultimately holding the bag. Morton Grove leaders, PLEASE move carefully and do your due diligence.
David Lewis May 26, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Mr. Dubren, My father used to say, "You cannot reason with an unreasonable person." If you had bothered to read the Patch articles regarding the May 19th Dempster Street meeting that was held at the Civic Center you would know that Mayor Staackmann made it very clear that establishing a TIF district for Dempster Street was simply a concept and that nothing definite had been decided upon. The consensus of the property owners and residents who attended (you were not one of them) was when compared to other programs such as Business Improvement District (BID) and Special Service Area (SSA), the TIF program was the most viable. A second meeting will be held in June or July and I urge MG property owners and residents, including Mr. Dubren, to attend the meeting. The date and time will be announced soon.
David Lewis May 26, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Mr. Dubren, One last comment. It is blatantly obvious that your chronic criticisms of Mayor Staackmann and the Village Board are based solely on politics. Allow me to remind you that the elections were over in April. I have previously challenged you to run for political office, attend Village Board meetings, attend Commission meetings or simply volunteer your time to any organization in the Village. To the best of my knowledge you have done none of the above. And, I do not wish to stifle criticism, in fact I encourage it but only when it is based on facts. To make silly unfounded charges such as the "Mayor being more friendly to the public" or my wanting a "dictatorship" only minimizes the purpose of this forum and the person making those charges.
David Lewis May 26, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Mr. Kansoer, In response to your comments, the Village leaders ARE moving carefully and demonstrating due diligence by providing public meetings that are designed to educate the public, encourage discussion and debate, and present an open forum for questions, suggestions and ideas. John Said runs a very organized meeting and my fellow EDC commissioners assist him in his efforts. As I have suggested to others on Patch I hope that you will consider attending the next meeting. The date will be announced soon.
David Lewis May 26, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Mr. Dubren, If you take the time to look, the EDC's Agenda and Minutes are posted on the Village of Morton Grove's web site as it has been for some time. To view the documents go the site, click on "Government" and then on "Village Committees and Commissions". Had you made the effort to attend the May meeting you would have witnessed a very lively exchange of information and ideas from members of the EDC. We recently assisted the the Director of the MG Civic Center with suggestions for her marketing efforts and did the same for the Director of the Morton Grove Chamber of Commerce. We also receive monthly updates from the Morton Grove Library. The EDC is a pro-active group of MG residents and business owners who are committed to supporting and promoting our business community. I am fortunate to be a part of this Commission and proud of what they have accomplished and continue to accomplish. What have you done to move the Village forward?


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