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DeKalb Park District commissioners press city for more TIF transparency

December 24, 2018

DeKALB – Park District commissioners added their voices to those calling for changes in the way the City of DeKalb manages and spends tax increment financing funds.

The park board on Thursday voted, 5-0, to adopt a resolution calling for the city to convene another meeting of its Joint Review Board. The board consists of representatives of all local governments affected by DeKalb’s use of tax increment financing, including the park district along with School District 428, Kishwaukee College and DeKalb County, among others.

Park commissioners also want the city to adopt new regulations on how it spends and manages tax increment financing proceeds. The changes, which officials have referred to as City Code Chapter 37, were proposed Dec. 10 but not voted on by the council.

The park board is joining others, including DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato, in calling for a forensic audit of TIF spending over the past several years, with a report to be provided to the review board and the public.

The park district’s resolution also says that before any future review board meetings, members should be provided with the agenda, reports and other supporting information at least 10 days in advance.

The amount of property tax that local taxing bodies collect from properties within a tax increment financing district is frozen for 23 years. As the value of property in the district increases, corresponding increases in property tax payments – called the increment – are diverted to a separate account to be used for improvements.

DeKalb’s tax-increment financing spending came under scrutiny after allegations arose that the city for years had inappropriately spent $500,000 to $800,000 a year on administrative expenses.

On Tuesday, the city council voted to spend more than $5 million it has on hand in remaining TIF funds, including setting aside $200,000 for a potential forensic audit.

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