Report: Woodstock TIF fund reaches $319K deficit

Council to vote Tuesday on establishment of new district

The city of Woodstock’s tax increment financing district fund ended the fiscal year with a deficit of more than $300,000, according to an annual report filed with the Illinois Comptroller’s Office.

The city’s existing TIF district was established in 1997. The district is set to expire in 2020, and city officials are in the process of creating a replacement. A vote on whether to establish the district will take place Tuesday.

When a city establishes a TIF district, the property tax base in that area is frozen for a specified time, typically 23 years. If equalized assessed values in the district rise over the course of those 23 years, the added property taxes collected are funneled into an account set aside for redevelopment projects in that TIF district.

In fiscal 2018, which ran from May 1, 2017, to April 30, 2018, the TIF fund collected $608,868 in property tax increment along with $780 in interest and $42,119 in unspecified “other” sources, according to the annual report.

That means a total of $651,767 was deposited into the TIF account, which had a beginning fund balance of minus-$151,851. Expenditures totaled $818,937, according to the report.

At the end of the reporting period, the fund had a deficit of $319,021, according to the report.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said the fiscal 2019 budget has a surplus to its TIF fund to address the deficit.

“The city has completed larger projects in advance to take advantage of competitive pricing, knowing the revenue will be forthcoming,” Stelford said. “Any remaining deficit in TIF No. 1 will be addressed prior to its expiration. Any remaining deficit will need to be addressed by the city and its other funds, and not by the other taxing entities.”

The increment was down from last year, when the district collected $665,067 in property tax increment, plus $1,078 in interest, $20,000 in municipal transfers and $31,990 in “other” sources. During that reporting period, which ran from May 1, 2016, to April 30, 2017, officials approved spending $779,843.

A major chunk of the 2017-18 funding went toward the city-owned Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House complex on the historic Square.

The city spent $485,851 in TIF funding on the complex, which included window replacements, architectural services, a masonry study and restoration work.

Other expenditures went toward the controversial Benton Street boardwalk, which allowed restaurants on Benton Street to provide outdoor food service. Those businesses were Mia Passione (which has since closed), Main Street PourHouse, Benton Street Tap and D.C. Cobb’s, which is owned by outgoing City Council member Dan Hart.

The city paid $21,225 to Associated Electrical Contractors Inc. for its work on the project and $37,400 to La Fontaine Enterprises for construction of the space, according to the report.

A total of $195,605 went toward financing costs to pay off bonds the city issued more than a decade ago to help clean up the old Die Cast site, now known as Woodstock Station.

Woodstock issued about $2.5 million in bonds to pay for the project and still is paying it off. Debt payments will conclude in December 2021, Stelford said.

The site, on McHenry Avenue north of the Square and railroad station, formerly housed a manufacturing facility and was contaminated.

One of the main focuses of the existing TIF district was the demolition and environmental remediation of the site, city officials have said.

Several developers have expressed interest in building housing units on the property since its rehabilitation, but the projects never were fully realized.

Another developer came forward this year and requested potential reimbursement for a housing complex on the site if the new TIF district is approved.

The city also paid $87,778 for “streetscape” improvements, $25,087 for downtown brick replacement and $14,831 for sidewalk maintenance and repairs, according to the report.

City officials have said they don’t plan to take on more debt for projects in the proposed TIF if it is approved.

The TIF would replace the expiring district. The area covers the downtown and Route 47 area. It encompasses about 60 percent of the existing TIF district with an additional 500 acres of property.

City Council members will vote on whether to establish the district at
7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 121 W. Calhoun St.

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