The City of Evanston on Wednesday, November 3, released the following public response to the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board:
On Monday, October 25, the Evanston City Council voted to approve the creation of Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District #9, also known as the Five-Fifths TIF. The Council’s vote followed approval of a Joint Review Board representing all governing bodies within the TIF District and months of robust community discussion with stakeholders who brought good faith concerns about potential unintended negative consequences of passage of this TIF.
The City took these concerns, including those raised by District 65, seriously, and pursued multiple highly unusual strategies to address these potential problems. These strategies included extensive good faith negotiations between City of Evanston and District 65 leadership to establish an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) in advance of the vote, as well as the drafting and adoption of a resolution (88-R-21) that expresses the City’s commitment to the goals that underlie this TIF, namely investment in people and places that have been historically marginalized.
District 65 leadership shared these goals but preferred a different mechanism to enforce them, and out of respect for this desire, the City Council delayed an anticipated September vote on the TIF to allow more time for negotiation on a potential IGA.
Eventually, City and District 65 negotiators were able to reach an agreement and present a proposed IGA to City Council for consideration. The City Council’s decision, on a 5-4 vote, not to approve the IGA, is a reflection of the difficulty of resolving a subject like this via a contract with a completely independent government body, and the City’s devotion of significant time and effort to achieve an agreement is a reflection of its commitment to a strong partnership with District 65. Although the negotiations did not ultimately result in a signed IGA, they did have a significant influence on the content of Resolution 88-R-21 that meets the spirit of District 65 and the City’s shared goals.
The resolution adopted by City Council includes two aspects unique to TIF Districts in Illinois:
First, it includes the City’s stated public commitments to use TIF funding to support existing homeowners, renters and landlords within its boundaries, specifically directing funds to affordable housing, residential housing repairs, public spaces and infrastructure, workforce development, and business district improvements.
Second, it includes the creation of a TIF Advisory Committee, composed of seven members, which will review proposed TIF district expenditures prior to City Council consideration. This additional community engagement and oversight will ensure proposals align with Resolution 88-R-21, the TIF ordinances, and all of the City’s committed public goals.
The City has always taken District 65’s concerns seriously, including the deeply troubling threats and vandalism experienced by some school board members earlier this year, and is committed to continuing to work together to develop solutions that allocate finite resources effectively and equitably, ensuring that no one organization or individual receives resources above and beyond any other. It is regrettable that District 65 and the City have in the past sometimes disagreed about how to best effectuate this outcome, but the City stands ready to resume those discussions at any time.
The City shares District 65’s commitment to safety, equity and to ensuring that every child and every family has what they need to reach their full potential — both inside and outside the classroom. That not only means access to great schools and teachers, it means access to enrichment activities, career opportunities, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, and food stability, all of which will be directly supported by TIF funds over the next several decades.
Additionally, state law mandates that District 65 and District 202 receive a percentage of TIF revenues for impacts resulting in net new students resulting from TIF investment. City consultants estimate a maximum of $16.5 million over the 23-year TIF lifespan.
The City of Evanston looks forward to continuing to work with District 65 and the entire Evanston community to meet our commitments now and in the future. With hard work and a commitment to trusting our respective expertise and experiences, we can maximize our collective impact and create the generational change that residents deserve.
Source: City of Evanston
Not to be mean spirited, etc. Roundtable has always been forthright in assessing comments in truth. In listening to the voices of voting, it seems to me that they (nay sayers) are not ready to commit to a binding good faith agenda because it has never been done in the past. This council did not understand the issues of “good faith”. OPAL is no longer committed to education; therefore the opinions of others are vague and has not been fully vetted for their reasons. Is thrashing public opinion always necessary to come forth and demand explanations. If this is another fight (that seems to be the status quo in moments of adversity in diversity) then explain faith. Reply is simple political rhetoric and if Council will not abide by the critical issues that will promote a peaceful resolution then another kicking the can while while students must cross the busy streets with each and every parent or someone dedicated to safety to a safe passage in reality.
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