By Herb Meeker
News Report Staff
Teutopolis School Board members and Village Board trustees sat down together last week to come to an understanding on the sharing of Tax Increment Financing money in the future.
A TIF sets aside property tax revenues from local taxing bodies for a given period. For Teutopolis, it covers 23 years.
The money generated in the new TIF II District comes from an increase in tax receipts through the increase of property assessments. This money in Teutopolis will be set aside for helping industrial and residential development that will add to the value of different properties over the years.
The concern for Teutopolis Unit 50 School District is the loss of property taxes, which coincides with the unpredictable nature of state funding for public schools.
“Since 2008, there has been no increase in state aid,” said Teutopolis Board of Education President Jim Buhnerkempe on January 17 during the special board meeting with village elected officials. “It is hard to depend on revenue from the State of Illinois.”
Buhnerkempe said the board’s purpose of the special meeting was to get some assurance from village government for sharing some TIF revenue with the school district to prevent a shortfall in local school funding. The general understanding, as expressed by Teutopolis Mayor Greg Hess, was the village board would work out some revenue sharing for the school district, but not immediately.
“We’ve been told you don’t want the school district to suffer from reduced revenue,” Buhnerkempe said. “We want to talk about how we want to move forward. Our feeling is something has to be worked out.”
At one point during the meeting, it was suggested a percentage of TIF money, possibly as high as 25 percent, be paid back to the school district for its sacrifice of property tax money. But the village has been reluctant to commit to such an agreement because there are concerns over the amount of money that will be produced by TIF projects.
“It is always going to be a moving target,” said Teutopolis Village Trustee Greg Oseland. “We do not want to put the village or the school district into a binding agreement that hurts either one.”
Leon Gobczynski, a school board member, was concerned with the accuracy of the TIF investment figures, which totals just under $15 million throughout the district based on several factors.
“I feel as a board member that we’d like to have something done on paper. I’m not sure the numbers are accurate from high to low,” Gobczynski said.
Mayor Hess said some of the TIF figures are changing. Unit 50 Schools Superintendent Bill Fritcher said it is hard nailing down information on TIF investment and its long-term effect on school districts due to various factors, including how property values will change in the future and the TIF effect on general school aid.
That is why Fritcher suggested both school and village board members meet with Effingham County Supervisor of Assessments Pam Braun to acquire more information on the local level to help work out a fair agreement for both sides.
Burhnerkempe suggested a joint committee be formed when more data is compiled before the TIF revenue kicks in during the 2020 taxing year. Fritcher offered to schedule the meeting with Braun.
There was no final decision on setting a possible meeting date, but both sides were appreciative of the chance to talk directly about the TIF funding issue.