LAKEMOOR – Lakemoor is the latest McHenry County municipality to find itself in a tax increment finance district tussle.
After decades of delayed development at the intersection of Route 120 and Route 12, Lakemoor officials are determined to develop a TIF district in the area to attract businesses despite objections from Wauconda School District 118.
The proposed district, which would extend south of Route 120 and west of Route 12 to just past Fox Lake Road, is expected to significantly increase the equalized assessed value of the area from $20,000 to roughly $13 million over the 23-year lifespan of the TIF. But District 118 Superintendent Daniel Coles said economic boost would come at a steep cost to the schools.
Coles said the property would be developed without a TIF district incentive, noting Inland Real Estate Corporation purchased the land years ago with plans to build retail shops and other commercial businesses. He pointed to the company's website, which advertises a "Shops at Lakemoor" project and calls the intersection one of the most important in Lake County.
"Would they prefer a TIF district? Sure," Coles said. "[But] the evidence is clear. This property is destined for commercial development."
District 118 has just more than 4 percent of its student population in the TIF district, but Coles said it would still be a significant loss of revenue – especially if the lofty EAV increases are realized – for a district that receives more than 70 percent of its money from property taxes.
Lakemoor village President Todd Weihofen said this is not the first time the school district has voiced opposition to a TIF district to develop the area. Weihofen said people have pointed to past purchases of the land by developers in the past as a reason to avoid establishing a TIF, but nothing has come of the purchases.
Weihofen said Inland Real Estate Corporation has owned the land for about 10 years and the lack of progress in the area shows the TIF is needed to jumpstart development.
"I would say the board is very supportive," Weihofen said of the TIF district. "We're going to move forward with it."
Coles also asked the village board to consider entering an intergovernmental agreement that would mitigate the revenue loss because of the TIF, but Weihofen said that would work against the goal of the TIF district and said the village would not pursue that option.
Coles also challenged the legality of the proposed TIF district, saying the area did not suffer from chronic flooding, which was the basis for the district. Coles said he still hopes to reach an agreement with the village but added "all options are on the table" when it comes to challenging the TIF district.
Weihofen said the TIF district could receive final approval at the village's Feb. 17 meeting, which is the minimum amount of time a taxing body must wait from the time of the public hearing before approving a TIF district project. No residents spoke at the public hearing Tuesday.