Monday, June 17, 2024

Ottawa City Council seeks extensions to 4 TIF districts

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The Ottawa City Council on Wednesday voted to ask for extensions of four of its seven tax increment financing districts, one of which will help it create a new amphitheater along the Illinois riverfront.

The Ottawa Canal TIF District was one of the four that will fund the bonds that will help the development of a park between the new Ottawa YMCA and Route 23 on the north side of the Illinois River. A part of that will be the construction of an amphitheater.

Also requested were extensions for North Interstate 80 TIF District, the Route 6 East TIF District and the Ottawa Dayton Industrial TIF District.

“The Canal TIF is somewhat crucial for the amphitheater,” Mayor Robert Hasty said, “because the money that we’ll get from that will most likely be one of the financial arms to pay for the bonds we need in order to finish the park, the amphitheater and everything around that area – the streets, curbs, etc. – that will be necessary there.

“The other three TIFs can be equally important because we’re always looking for further development, so if there’s any expansion in an area, we’re able to offer deals for them.”

Hasty gave one example of the importance of the TIFs, noting that shortly after Ottawa Dental Lab had purchased another company and wanted to expand, the East District benefit led the business to build along Route 71 in Ottawa instead of an alternate site in Indiana. Tax increment financing takes the funds from property taxes paid within that district beyond a frozen amount and collects it into a separate account to be used for economic development within that district.

“We were able to keep them here and expand, and it expanded jobs, expanded tax dollars and did everything it’s supposed to do,” Hasty said. “That we can continue doing that is vital for our economic growth.

“I tell folks that regardless of where you stand politically on TIFs, the reality is everyone’s doing it. If we on principle decided we weren’t going to work on TIFs, we’d lose out to every other community along the I-80 corridor. … In my opinion, Ottawa is more than fair with its TIFs. We give money back to the schools and we’re big on both surplus and rebates, so the schools see the benefit much sooner while it allows us funds to do things downtown.”

Also approved by the council was the awarding of bids for the Peck Park playground improvements, for $137,504 by Grand Rapids Enterprises for one facet and $57,888 by Ruiz Construction for another. The council also approved a quote from Halm Electric to install electrical service for the Peck Park splash pad.

The council confirmed the selling of five recovered properties to individuals for development and/or construction.

In other action, the council:

  • approved the hiring of Amanda Lynch as the city’s recreation director.
  • appointed Sue VandeVoort to the Ottawa Visitors Center board.
  • approved a public art agreement with Jeremy Johnson regarding a renewable mural to be located at 227-229 W. Main St.
  • approved engagement letters with Wipfli Auditing Services for audits for the city and North Central Area Transit.
  • heard Hasty read into the record two proclamations, one declaring May 19 to 25 National Public Works Week and the other denoting May 23 and 24 as Poppy Days in remembrance of veterans who lost their lives serving the U.S.

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