Diving deeper into Cambria's TIF proposal - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Diving deeper into Cambria's TIF proposal

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CAMBRIA -- Cambria board members will vote on a controversial proposal to establish a TIF district Thursday.

95 percent of the town would be included, meaning any revenue from an increase in property tax values in Cambria would go into a special fund for certain development projects.

The city has already agreed to two pre-development agreements: one with A & M Rental Properties and Shiloh Hills LLC, the other with Paul Wood Construction.

The A & M Rental deal would guarantee the developer gets back 65 percent of the increased property tax they pay on the property at West Grand Avenue and Cambria Road. That's capped at a max payout of $3,475,000 over the life of the TIF.

The other deal with Paul Wood would guarantee his firm 55 percent of the tax increment for property on Noah Lane, capped at $964,000.

Cambria Village President Steve Gottschalk said the TIF discussion has generated interested from at least five other developers.

"We have other developers standing by, seeing if the TIF is gonna go through before they make their offers to put some more repairs in town for other houses," Gottschalk said.

The TIF proposal has been months in the making.

The first ordinance was drafted in December, followed by the approval of the A & M pre-development agreement.

Cambria then commissioned Jacob and Klein LTD, The Economic Development Group out of Bloomington to produce a TIF proposal, which they did in August. Gottschalk said the law firm has cost $10,000 so far and will cost $20,000 on top of that if the TIF is approved.
    
"We had a very tough time digging up the money for that," Gottschalk said.

Gottschalk said the president of A & M Rental Properties, Max Falmier, put money into a new TIF fund to help pay the cost, something he claims is completely legal.

"I was surprised by that rule but I guess that's a normal procedure for the TIF," Gottschalk said.

Gottschalk said the village needs the help and it needs the TIF.

"If not, the village, in a year or two, could go the way of some of the other towns in Illinois," Gottschalk said. "We'd just have to close."

Another potential conflict with the deal involves Cambria board member Zack Cox, the primary negotiator for the TIF but also a contractor who said he has had discussions about working on the A & M Rental property. He has promised to recuse himself from Thursday's vote in light of those discussions.

"I don't have anything to say about that," Gottschalk said in response to a question about Cox's role in both the TIF discussion and discussions with a developer.

Gottschalk believes most of the opposition to the TIF is a result of the Carterville school board's opposition to the deal.

"The school district is very important to us, our children go to that school," Gottschalk said.

And he said Cambria needs the quality school district to draw people in, justifying all of the new, partially-subsidized homes and apartments.

"It's a Catch-22 but funding for a small town, we don't have any commercial activity, we're not going to draw in any industrial community, all we have (to offer) is a safe community for the residents to live in," Gottschalk said.

The village has offered the school district 15 percent of any new property tax revenue generated in the TIF district and Cox said Falmier has offered 10 percent of the tax increment generated off his development.

The district's attorney said the offer is much lower than other deals they've done in the past but they're still considering it.

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