Message from the President,
Update on Winfield Town Center Revitalization
Dear Winfield Residents,
At Thursday night’s regular Village Board meeting, the Trustees approved ordinances to establish Town Center TIF #2, which will enable the Village to advance its redevelopment plan to create a pedestrian-friendly retail destination district and public gathering space. There have been plenty of twists and turns in this process over the last few months, and so this is a good moment to take a step back to explain where things stand now and how we got here.
But first, I do not want lose sight of what that process is all about. The Village’s redevelopment plan offers a new vision for downtown Winfield, turning 6.75 acres of unused and under-used land into an inviting, attractive and vibrant focal point for the community. It will:
• Attract new restaurants and retail businesses.
• Create new public amenities and beautification projects for residents and visitors.
• Inspire new residential and commercial development.
• Permanently generate additional revenue for the Village, schools, parks, library, Fire
Protection District and other local governments.
• All without raising residents’ property taxes.
The Trustees also approved on Thursday an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) on revenue sharing with fellow local governments from property tax payments that will be generated by the TIF. The IGA approved by the Village Board was the result of many hours of negotiations and diligent work over the last month and a half by our local governments – in particular the Village, District 34, District 94, the Fire Protection District and the Park District.
You can watch a video of Thursday’s Board Meeting here, on the Village website. The discussion of TIF #2 and the IGA begins at about 51:30.
Unfortunately, before the Village even voted to approve TIF #2, the District 34 Board voted to exclude themselves from the IGA at their own meeting Thursday night. Rather than continuing the productive negotiations trying to settle the last details of the agreement, District 34 rejected the IGA in its entirety despite having agreed to nearly all of the IGA’s terms as recently as the previous week. In fact, all the negotiating parties except for District 34 had voiced support for the entire IGA.
Sadly, if any local government rejects the IGA, the Village has no choice but to rescind its approval of the IGA based upon that local government’s rejection. That’s because State law prohibits the Village from providing tax revenues to only some of the local governments.
The TIF #2 ordinances approved on Thursday do not take effect until filed with the County Clerk, which is a step designed to provide additional time to finalize an IGA with District 34 and all interested fellow local governments.
Setting the Record Straight
It has been an important goal of the Village Board to implement our redevelopment plan without raising taxes, and I’m sure that is also important to you. I would like to set the record straight on this point, as I understand that it has been contested by District 34.
Let me be clear: Our plan does achieve this goal. We are avoiding a tax increase because the funding for redevelopment comes from non-taxpayer dollars.
In 2017, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) approached the Village about CDH’s need to build the new parking deck that is now taking shape on Winfield Road. Thanks to the foresight of the Village, we saw an opportunity for the funding we needed for Town Center development, and we seized it. After about three years of tough negotiations with CDH, they agreed in 2020 to provide the funding the Village needs to achieve our development goals.
The Village also had to negotiate exactly how we would receive this funding from CDH. That’s where TIF #2 entered the picture. CDH would agree to put the parking deck on the tax roles for 20 years, even though CDH is a nonprofit and its properties are therefore typically tax-exempt. The Village would create TIF #2, which would cause the parking deck tax dollars to flow into the Village’s TIF fund, which we could then use for redevelopment: incentives to attract new businesses and assist existing businesses, a new plaza and other public improvements, and a new police department/municipal center.
This agreement with CDH shows the kind of creative thinking that residents should expect from their Village government. One of our most important roles as a municipal government is to seek out opportunities for long-term economic development. Thanks to the Village’s work, these dollars will be put to use for the benefit of Winfield residents and our fellow local governments.
Finding Compromise with District 34
It seems the stumbling blocks we’ve encountered in our negotiations with District 34 have much to do with misunderstanding the purpose of a TIF and perhaps a mismatch of goals.
The entire premise of a TIF is for a municipality to make capital investments in order to attract new, private investment. One can’t happen without the other. Like most economic development, this effort requires not only dollars but patient, long-term planning. It doesn’t happen overnight. Our goal is for properties downtown to be put to better use, benefit the community, rise in value and create new tax revenue that can be used to pay for public services by all our local governments.
Illinois law establishes a standard 23-year timeframe for a TIF district precisely because they are intended to be a long-term economic development tool. The success of TIF #1 is a prime example. The opportunity to attract the Winfield Station apartment complex came 15 years into the TIF, as a result of the careful planning and investment the Village made on the front end.
So far, the impression we’re getting from District 34 is that they instead see a smaller, short-term benefit from receiving those dollars starting in the next few years. To a certain extent, I understand where they’re coming from. Their job isn’t long-term economic development. That’s our job as a municipal government. However, this short-term thinking midjudges the purpose of TIF revenue, and it will undercut the Village’s long-term efforts.
Despite these differences, I still believe there is an opportunity to resolve them in the coming weeks. In a compromise, nobody gets everything they want. As long as the Village is confident it can receive enough funding to implement our specific development plans, there is room to come together and produce an agreement for the benefit of our taxpayers.