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Peoria, Illinois Council Rejects Using $3.5 Million
in TIF Money for Marriott Hotel Project

By John Sharp, Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 25, 2012--PEORIA -- A large pot of tax money typically reserved for projects south of Downtown will not be used to lower the city's bonded obligation on the Marriott Hotel project.

With a unanimous vote followed by strong applause from the crowd, the council shot down a proposal to spend $3.5 million in tax-increment financing built up within the Southtown TIF district boundaries to help save the city money on the hotel bonds.

It was a surprising move that occurred following passionate speeches from residents who called on council members to make a "moral obligation" in supporting the Southtown tax increment financing district.

Residents were mostly upset over the council's agenda packet information, which said there were "no neighborhood concerns" about diverting the Southtown TIF money to reduce the city's bond costs on the hotel project to $29 million.

"I believe the Southtown TIF should be used where it should be, and that's in Southtown," said Marilyn Mosley, a Spring Grove resident, within the Southtown TIF's boundaries.

City Manager Patrick Urich had suggested using the TIF money as a way to reduce the city's obligation on the Marriott Hotel bond.

Mayor Jim Ardis said city officials will re-examine ways to reduce the capitalized interest on the Marriott Hotel bonds, which the city wants to market within the next month. A one-month delay was also approved by the council, with an 8-3 vote, on the city's redevelopment agreement with EM Properties, the East Peoria-based developer in charge of building the convention hotel attached via a skywalk to the Civic Center.

Council members Gary Sandberg, Chuck Weaver and Beth Akeson voted against the agreement's extension. City Manager Patrick Urich said the financing was in place for the hotel project to move forward.

Most of the conversation focused on leaving Southtown TIF money alone.

"There are so many things to be done that have not been done (in Southtown)," 1st District City Councilman Clyde Gulley said in arguing for using the money remaining in the TIF district for Southtown-related work. State law allows cities to divert money from one TIF district to pay for projects within another TIF as long as the two are adjacent.

Some residents, who have moved into the Southtown area since the TIF district was created in 1978, said it's not fair to use their property taxes to pay for projects outside the district.

A large pot of tax money typically reserved for projects south of Downtown will not be used to lower the city's bonded obligation on the Marriott Hotel project.

With a unanimous vote followed by strong applause from the crowd, the council shot down a proposal to spend $3.5 million in tax-increment financing built up within the Southtown TIF district boundaries to help save the city money on the hotel bonds.

It was a surprising move that occurred following passionate speeches from residents who called on council members to make a "moral obligation" in supporting the Southtown tax increment financing district.

Residents were mostly upset over the council's agenda packet information, which said there were "no neighborhood concerns" about diverting the Southtown TIF money to reduce the city's bond costs on the hotel project to $29 million.

"I believe the Southtown TIF should be used where it should be, and that's in Southtown," said Marilyn Mosley, a Spring Grove resident, within the Southtown TIF's boundaries.

City Manager Patrick Urich had suggested using the TIF money as a way to reduce the city's obligation on the Marriott Hotel bond.

Mayor Jim Ardis said city officials will re-examine ways to reduce the capitalized interest on the Marriott Hotel bonds, which the city wants to market within the next month. A one-month delay was also approved by the council, with an 8-3 vote, on the city's redevelopment agreement with EM Properties, the East Peoria-based developer in charge of building the convention hotel attached via a skywalk to the Civic Center.

Council members Gary Sandberg, Chuck Weaver and Beth Akeson voted against the agreement's extension. City Manager Patrick Urich said the financing was in place for the hotel project to move forward.

Most of the conversation focused on leaving Southtown TIF money alone.

"There are so many things to be done that have not been done (in Southtown)," 1st District City Councilman Clyde Gulley said in arguing for using the money remaining in the TIF district for Southtown-related work. State law allows cities to divert money from one TIF district to pay for projects within another TIF as long as the two are adjacent.

Some residents, who have moved into the Southtown area since the TIF district was created in 1978, said it's not fair to use their property taxes to pay for projects outside the district.

TIF districts, once created, are meant to use new property taxes generated from development to pay for infrastructure improvements within its boundaries. That money is diverted away from schools, parks and other government bodies for 23 years -- or, as in Southtown's case, longer, through approval by the General Assembly.

"This money is an investment that will be used to help develop the south side," said Robin Berry, president of Southside Up Neighborhood Association. "For use to use that money and put it into an adjacent TIF is wrong."

Others agreed.

"The Pere Marquette does have its purpose, we understand that," the Rev. Rose Booker-Jones of Bethel United Methodist Church said, referring to the Hotel Pere Marquette portion of the hotel project, which includes a complete renovation of the aging and empty Downtown structure. "So do the people of Southtown."

Note: A reference to the crowd being mostly made up of black Peorians has been taken out of this story on Jan. 25.

John Sharp can be reached at 686-3282 or jsharp@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnSharp99.

TIF districts, once created, are meant to use new property taxes generated from development to pay for infrastructure improvements within its boundaries. That money is diverted away from schools, parks and other government bodies for 23 years -- or, as in Southtown's case, longer, through approval by the General Assembly.

"This money is an investment that will be used to help develop the south side," said Robin Berry, president of Southside Up Neighborhood Association. "For use to use that money and put it into an adjacent TIF is wrong."

Others agreed.

"The Pere Marquette does have its purpose, we understand that," the Rev. Rose Booker-Jones of Bethel United Methodist Church said, referring to the Hotel Pere Marquette portion of the hotel project, which includes a complete renovation of the aging and empty Downtown structure. "So do the people of Southtown."

Note: A reference to the crowd being mostly made up of black Peorians has been taken out of this story on Jan. 25.

John Sharp can be reached at 686-3282 or jsharp@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnSharp99.

A large pot of tax money typically reserved for projects south of Downtown will not be used to lower the city's bonded obligation on the Marriott Hotel project.

With a unanimous vote followed by strong applause from the crowd, the council shot down a proposal to spend $3.5 million in tax-increment financing built up within the Southtown TIF district boundaries to help save the city money on the hotel bonds.

It was a surprising move that occurred following passionate speeches from residents who called on council members to make a "moral obligation" in supporting the Southtown tax increment financing district.

Residents were mostly upset over the council's agenda packet information, which said there were "no neighborhood concerns" about diverting the Southtown TIF money to reduce the city's bond costs on the hotel project to $29 million.

"I believe the Southtown TIF should be used where it should be, and that's in Southtown," said Marilyn Mosley, a Spring Grove resident, within the Southtown TIF's boundaries.

City Manager Patrick Urich had suggested using the TIF money as a way to reduce the city's obligation on the Marriott Hotel bond.

Mayor Jim Ardis said city officials will re-examine ways to reduce the capitalized interest on the Marriott Hotel bonds, which the city wants to market within the next month. A one-month delay was also approved by the council, with an 8-3 vote, on the city's redevelopment agreement with EM Properties, the East Peoria-based developer in charge of building the convention hotel attached via a skywalk to the Civic Center.

Council members Gary Sandberg, Chuck Weaver and Beth Akeson voted against the agreement's extension. City Manager Patrick Urich said the financing was in place for the hotel project to move forward.

Most of the conversation focused on leaving Southtown TIF money alone.

"There are so many things to be done that have not been done (in Southtown)," 1st District City Councilman Clyde Gulley said in arguing for using the money remaining in the TIF district for Southtown-related work. State law allows cities to divert money from one TIF district to pay for projects within another TIF as long as the two are adjacent.

Some residents, who have moved into the Southtown area since the TIF district was created in 1978, said it's not fair to use their property taxes to pay for projects outside the district.

TIF districts, once created, are meant to use new property taxes generated from development to pay for infrastructure improvements within its boundaries. That money is diverted away from schools, parks and other government bodies for 23 years -- or, as in Southtown's case, longer, through approval by the General Assembly.

"This money is an investment that will be used to help develop the south side," said Robin Berry, president of Southside Up Neighborhood Association. "For use to use that money and put it into an adjacent TIF is wrong."

Others agreed.

"The Pere Marquette does have its purpose, we understand that," the Rev. Rose Booker-Jones of Bethel United Methodist Church said, referring to the Hotel Pere Marquette portion of the hotel project, which includes a complete renovation of the aging and empty Downtown structure. "So do the people of Southtown."

Note: A reference to the crowd being mostly made up of black Peorians has been taken out of this story on Jan. 25.

John Sharp can be reached at 686-3282 or jsharp@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnSharp99.

___

(c)2012 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.)

Visit the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.) at www.PJStar.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services Tokyo:6753,



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