Wednesday, May 29, 2024

La Salle County Board extends Ottawa TIFs

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Ottawa finally received the tax increment financing district extensions the city had asked of La Salle County.

Thursday, the La Salle County Board approved, in a series of near-unanimous votes, intergovernmental agreements with Ottawa on four TIF districts. These include the U.S. 6 East, Interstate 80 North, Ottawa Dayton Industrial and Ottawa Canal TIF districts.

“The extension of the TIFs was an important step forward regarding the future economic development of Ottawa,” Mayor Robert Hasty said in a statement. “Last Tuesday, the city placed on file the grant agreement for the Riverfront amphitheater. A portion of our expenses of not only the amphitheater but also the entire riverfront development was dependent upon funds we would receive from the Canal TIF.”

In April, the county board had tabled the TIF requests after members expressed concerns with the impact on taxpayers; but the skeptics came around. Arratta Znaniecki, R-Ottawa, said her concerns were primarily with the Canal TIF until Chairman Don Jensen negotiated some concessions such as increased rebates and administrative fees.

“I wanted more,” Znaniecki said, “but I was happy we’re negotiating extensions and not rubberstamping them.”

There remains some political sparring, however. Board member Brian Dose, D-Ottawa, voted to approve the extensions but said it should have been done sooner.

“The board chairman negotiated the TIF extensions, not in March, but in May, after the April board vote failed,” Dose said. “I would have met with board members and sought out their ideas, explained TIFs and negotiated with the City before the April vote.”

Dose is challenging Jensen in the November election for county board chairman.

“The original vote failure was due to inaction and lack of communication to board members,” Dose said. “As board chairman, I would create an Economic Development Committee to encourage and assist job creation, and lower property taxes for working families.”

Jensen issued a statement in reply.

“Meetings were attended with the City of Ottawa regarding their request for the extensions and ample opportunity was afforded the City of Ottawa to present their proposal at the Land Use/ TIF committee meeting,” the chairman said. “Pertinent questions were asked in these sessions to hopefully promote a greater understanding of TIFs to the board members who took the opportunity to view the video versions on our website. 

“It became apparent at the April meeting that there were still some unanswered questions. .My door has been open to any board member who wished to discuss these issues especially by someone that would be concerned about a passing vote on the full board floor,” he said. “Ensuing conversation with various parties led to the counter proposal by the County and In the end, the County’s best interest was achieved and in doing so, helped the City of Ottawa move forward with their development of the concerned TIFs to hopefully bring jobs and prosperity to the citizens of La Salle County.”

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