Friday, April 20, 2012

Harrisburg Targets TIFs for Growth

View Proposed Harrisburg TIF Districts in a larger map

The City of Harrisburg is looking to aggressively use tax increment financing districts (TIFs) to not rebuild following the devastating Feb. 29 tornado but also growth their economy with new developments along Illinois Route 13 Bypass which recently opened up completely.

I've got a story in today Daily Register about the background on the plans. Mayor Eric Gregg indicated following their city council meeting tonight that council will take up the TIFs at a special meeting on Monday, April 30.

They already set a continued meeting for that morning at 8 a.m. to pass a budget before the beginning of the city's new fiscal year in May. The special meeting will likely immediately follow.

The city's already working with lawmakers to get their 22-year-old TIF I an extension for another 12 years. A proposed TIF II would run along the new bypass, named the Bill Franks Way. TIF III would cover the area on the south side of the city hit by the tornado.

There's no specific tourism component in these TIF plans, but the city's two modern hotels, the Super 8 and Comfort Inn were both built within TIF I during its early years. The Saline County Tourism Board and some of those interested in TIF II have long sought a new higher end lodging establishment.

Most of the commercial development, both retail and hospitality are mostly located along U.S. Route 45 on the city's east side. The new bypass offers potential of a new east-west business corridor creating a 7-shaped business district.

Saline County Commissioners apparently endorsed the extension of TIF I Tuesday night at a special meeting where they approved an option to purchase nine acres of county property along the north side of the bypass for a major new residential project. It lays in both TIF I as well as the portion of the first TIF that is being added to the new TIF II.

The city needs the written support of the major taxing bodies by the end of next week so state Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, and state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, and attached language to an existing TIF bill to extend the life of TIF I. The end of the spring legislation session is quickly approaching in May.

The next step for TIF II is a city council vote approving the feasibility study. For TIF III they need to officially hire the TIF consultant and begin the work on third TIF.

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