For many years we have admired the Forest Park village government’s foresight in envisioning the future of Roosevelt Road, specifically two large parcels currently owned by agencies of the federal government.

For many reasons, some having to do with federal budget deficits, it seems clear that eventually the Department of Defense will shutter the Army Reserve Center on Roosevelt Road and declare it surplus property. Similarly, the financially bollixed United States Postal Service will eventually close its bulk mail center tucked behind Roosevelt Road. In past years the village has taken progressive steps to position itself to control the future development of these – by our landlocked standards – large parcels.

Monday night the discussion turned in a new direction as the village council heard a presentation by a financial consultant on the possibility of creating two new TIF – Tax Increment Financing – districts along Roosevelt. TIFs are fairly common, some say too common, tools used by local governments to create a funding mechanism to pay for costs associated with commercial development. Funds, which are pooled from increases in property taxes for property within a TIF’s boundaries, can be used as enticements for developers or to pay for infrastructure improvements – sewers, streetscapes, paving – that speed development.

Two things. TIF’s need the active support of other local government entities. The reason is simple: they must agree to forego property tax revenue increases on TIF properties for a long while. So those discussions with local schools, parks, etc. are important. Second, the devil is in the details with any TIF. For instance, setting the boundaries of what is in and what is excluded from a TIF is critical and must be done very thoughtfully.

We’re glad to see the village start the complex process of considering TIF’s for Roosevelt Road.

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