The village council is expected to sign off on the new Circle/Harlem Tax Increment Financing District at its final meeting in November. 

The village council had hoped to extend the Brown Street Station TIF, also known as Brown/Harlem TIF, in order to help fund projects such as the Harlem Avenue railroad bridge revamp, and to replace the lead pipes in that part of the village. 

But because the extensions must be approved by the Illinois General Assembly, the village decided to instead create a similar TIF, let the old TIF expire and “port” the remaining funds from the old TIF into a new TIF.

As part of the process, the village council unanimously agreed Monday to change the current Brown/Harlem TIF borders to take out the sections that won’t be in the new Circle/Harlem TIF. It is expected to approve the new tax funding district at the end of the month. Because the two TIFs would exist simultaneously, the village council will be able to move the money from the old TIF to the new TIF – something it expects to do later during the same meeting. The council will then terminate the old TIF in December.

When a TIF district is created, the amount of tax revenue that goes to the taxing bodies is frozen at current levels. As assessments and levies rise, the surplus money is deposited into a TIF fund. The idea is that the new development would raise the property values, which would increase property tax revenue in the long run. 

The major differences between the two TIFs are that 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.

Since the Circle/Harlem TIF would be a new district, the frozen levy would be reset from 2000 levels to 2023 levels. Former village administrator Moses Amidei previously estimated that it would more than double the tax revenue the taxing bodies are currently getting. The redevelopment plan estimates that the equalized assessed value (EAV) of the properties that would fall within the new TIF is over $10.3 million. The plan projects that, after 23 years, when the TIF would expire (unless it’s extended), the EAV within the TIF would go up to anywhere between $17.5 million and $22.5 million.

According to a memo by Ryan LLC’s, Forest Park’s planning consultant, the Joint Review Board, a body made up of representatives of all taxing districts that would be affected by Circle/Harlem TIF, met on Sept. 27. It stated that the representatives in attendance supported the new TIF, but didn’t offer any further details. While the extension of the TIF requires all taxing districts’ support, the creation of a new TIF only requires a simple majority.