The village of Forest Park doesn’t expect to have enough time to extend the Brown/Harlem Tax Increment Financing district — so instead, it took the first step toward creating a new, similar TIF. 

The Brown Street Station TIF, mostly falls within the area bounded by the Green Line/Metra line embankment to the north, Brown Street to the west, Franklin Street to the south and Harlem Avenue to the east. It is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, but the village hoped to extend it another 12 years to fund several projects in the northeast corner of Forest Park, including redoing the Harlem Avenue railroad bridge, demolishing the water tower in the nearby CTA railyard and replacing lead pipes in that area. Illinois General Assembly didn’t vote on the TIF extension during its regular session, and even if it gets approved during the fall veto session, the approval can come as late as November, which wouldn’t give Forest Park enough time to complete the necessary statutory steps to finalize the extension.

Instead, the village decided to let the old Brown/Harlem TIF expire and create a new, similar-looking TIF. The major differences are most residential buildings that are part of the current TIF wouldn’t be part of the new TIF, and it would include a larger portion of the Harlem Avenue commercial corridor, reaching all the way down to Madison Street. 

In his memo to the village council, Village Administrator Moses Amidei indicated that this approach would bring more money to the affected taxing bodies. And Village Attorney Brian Baugh said that, while the TIF extension requires the unanimous consent of all the affected taxing bodies, creating a new one only requires a simple majority.

When a TIF is created, the amount of tax revenue that taxing bodies receive is frozen — in the Brown/Harlem TIF’s case, at 2000 levels. The extra property tax revenue, the “increment,” gets deposited into a TIF fund, where it can be used for development-related costs.

A new TIF would reset the tax revenue amount, freezing it at 2023 levels. Amidei estimated it would more than double the tax revenue. School District 91 would receive $272,528 a year, Proviso Township High School District 209 would receive $166,264, Proviso Township would receive $18,795, Park District of Forest Park would receive $99,035, Forest Park Public Library would receive $32,530, and the village itself would receive $99,035 annually. 

During the June 26 village council meeting, Amidei said revenue would most likely be greater, since his calculations didn’t take into account the full tax revenue the taxing bodies would get from the parcels that would no longer be part of a TIF.

The current Harlem/Brown TIF has $4 million in unused funds, and Forest Park would be able to “port” it over to the new TIF. 

The council voted unanimously to take the first few steps toward establishing a new TIF. It contracted Ryan LLC, a Dallas, Texas-based tax services advisory company that acquired Chicago-based economic development consultant Kane, McKenna and Associates, to prepare the TIF eligibility report and a TIF development plan, as well as to help the village set up the hearings and meetings necessary to get a TIF up and running. The contract sets the rate at $290 an hour, which is expected to add up to anywhere between $40,000 and $50,000. The contract also gives the village an option to request a financial analysis of how effective the TIF would be and how it would impact village finances. 

Phil McKenna, co-founder of Kane, McKenna and Associates, who has worked with the village in the past, told the council he will provide the same kind of service this time. The only difference would be that he would do it as a Ryan LLC employee.

Mayor Rory Hoskins said he is confident that the new TIF would be adopted.

“No one [among the taxing bodies] is objecting to the extension, so presumably, no one is going to object to a new TIF,” he said.