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Ottawa High School approves downtown TIF agreement

IVCC also set to approve

The extension of Ottawa’s downtown tax increment financing (TIF) district came closer to fruition Monday night with the approval of an agreement with Ottawa High School.

The school board agreed Monday to the city’s intergovernmental agreement, which will have the city declaring a surplus and giving the school 50 percent of the taxes it would have received if the TIF had expired.

“We’ll also receive all of the economic benefits that the other taxing bodies will receive as well,” said Superintendent Michael Cushing. “So we feel very comfortable with this and certainly value the partnership we have with the city of Ottawa. As we know, we have the levee improvement project coming up next and that intergovernmental agreement.”

The city is looking to extend the TIF an additional 12 years, bringing it to 2034, but letters of support from all of the associated taxing bodies must be sent to the Illinois General Assembly.

The downtown TIF extension also is expected to get a letter of support from Illinois Valley Community College.

The agreement was recommended by the college’s audit-finance committee after President Jerry Corcoran and Vice President for Business Services and Finances Cheryl Roelfsema met with city officials. It will go before the college's board of trustees on Thursday.

“We walked away thinking it’s a good deal for the city and a good deal for the college,” Corcoran said in a phone interview. “We always try to do what we can to support economic development in the region.”

The city is looking to extend the TIF to continue to reach agreements with new incoming businesses, some of which are hesitant due to the limited time remaining in the TIF. Additionally, the TIF funds are used to offer programs for facade improvements and to address collapsing buildings inside the district.

A letter of support has yet to come from the Ottawa Elementary district. The school board met last week to discuss the issue.

Superintendent Cleve Threadgill said the district has many of its own maintenance projects to consider and noted the money the district has gone without over the current length of the TIF could have been used in times the school district faced a deficit.

The Ottawa Elementary board is expected to continue the discussion with the city and formally vote on the agreement at a future meeting.

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