The city of Rockford wants to label an area, home to hundreds of businesses, blighted. That's a title that some residents aren't happy with. A public hearing Monday night gave citizens a chance to discuss this issue.
The city has proposed the creation of two new TIF Districts, one at Jefferson and Third Street, and another, much bigger TIF, covering the area between Alpine and Mulford Road on State Street. TIF stands for tax increment financing; it's a public financing strategy used for subsidizing redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects. In this case, the property taxes paid for by businesses within TIF districts would be used to improve the area those businesses are located in. One concerned citizen says, in this instance, mixing government with the 200 businesses along State between Alpine and Mulford just doesn't work.
"The main part of the law that allows city governments to create TIF Districts, is that the area be deemed 'blighted.' So, here's our city government wanting to name and label one of our most successful business areas in Rockford as 'blighted'" -says Rockford resident Brian Jenkins Leggero.
But one Rockford College representative spoke in favor of the TIF, even though the school won't get any tax incentives, since it's a not-for-profit organization.
"We will not receive any direct benefits from having the TIF District, but we believe it's important to get ahead of the blight. We have a lot of deteriorating property in the area and we believe that we need to be taking action now, so that we don't wait until they get so deteriorated that they're beyond repair for any new investment." -says Rockford College Senior Development Officer John McNamara.
Leggero has also seen the vacancy, but thinks the actual property owners should make the decisions on what to do with those empty spaces.
"They want Rockford to be a world-class city. I've been and lived in a lot of world-class cities, and none of them have this many TIF Districts, there's 30 of them in Rockford." -adds Leggero.
McNamara says a TIF District would offer indirect benefits for Rockford College.
"A more attractive environment for our students and parents when they come to look at the college, or when they stay. And, if we get more businesses in there, more goods and services for our faculty and staff, as well as the students; and finally, it gives the students an opportunity for part-time jobs or internships."
City Council members are expected to discuss and vote on the proposed TIFs in the near future.
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