By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- The Pikeland School Board should have a new tax increment financing district agreement with the city of Pittsfield ready to review in January.
Superintendent Paula Hawley is working on the agreement to "make us whole" if the city creates a second TIF district.
Plans call for the new district to connect with the city's existing TIF district near the Lowry Motel, then continue west along U.S. 54 past the city's new water plant at Underwood Corners and take in area on both sides of the highway.
TIF districts set a "base value" for property in their boundaries, then any increment, or any increase in property values from improvements, goes into a separate fund for 23 years to provide incentives for more improvement projects or local match money for grants.
That means taxing bodies, like the school district, lose out on additional revenue when properties are improved.
An agreement between Pikeland and the city made up the difference when the first TIF district was established, and work continues "on a very similar agreement like we had with the first district to make us whole. However, the tide has shifted a little bit," Hawley said.
"When we did the first agreement, we were receiving all of our state aid. Between what the state aid formula makes up because of the TIF and the agreement we had with the city, we weren't losing out on anything," she said. "But now that we're only getting 89 percent of our state aid, there's a gap there between what the state formula picks up from the TIF district and the agreement we currently have would cover. If state aid is prorated even more, there will be an even bigger gap on what we potentially might lose out on with the TIF district, so I'm working to get some kind of agreement in place that will help us out with that."
The city already has annexed the new location for Pike County Lumber, which is moving to clear the way for a planned Casey's General Store, and hopes to annex additional properties in the new district in January.
The Casey's site is within the first TIF district, so any additional tax money from improvements will go into the TIF fund. Hawley said the TIF districts are designed to help build and improve buildings which is a good thing to make the city "a better place for business to come."
More businesses and more jobs could bring more families to the community and put more students in the classroom.
Hawley expects to have an agreement ready in January.
"We have a good agreement with the first one," she said. "Times have changed a little. It may look a little different this time."