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Ottawa Elementary nears agreement with city for downtown TIF

Ottawa’s downtown tax increment financing district is likely to be extended.

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 city is currently lacking only one letter from the Ottawa Elementary School District, but Superintendent Cleve Threadgill said a letter is looking likely after further discussions from the city.

“I think we’ve been able to negotiate with the city in good faith and some things for some of the parcels that we have, that we’ll have some coverage for us in the future,” Threadgill said to media following Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

The school board appeared hesitant earlier in the year, as they haven’t received any funds from the first TIF agreement that gave no rebates, and have had to put off expensive maintenance projects and wind up in deficits to be paid off in bonds as a result.

The city has already received letters from Ottawa High School and Illinois Valley Community College.

In the current proposed agreement with the taxing bodies, the city would declare a surplus and give them 50% of the taxes they would have received if the TIF had expired, but not on any new projects. The extension would allow the city to use the remaining 50% to address collapsing buildings, offer programs such as facade improvements and also reach agreements with new incoming businesses.

Ottawa’s Director of Economic Development Dave Noble said the agreement may change due to recent conversations with the Ottawa Elementary School Board. Both the school district and the city declined to share the specifics of the new agreement, as it's still being worked on, but it will be brought before both the Ottawa Elementary School Board and Ottawa City Council for final approval.

“I’m appreciative that the schools have been willing to work with the city to keep economic development moving forward,” Noble said in a phone call Friday.

Noble had previously stated the TIF has proven instrumental for development in the city’s downtown thus far and developers have already begun asking about an extension,

“We’ve seen huge strides in the past 10 to 15 years but we can’t stop because if we stop and go backward everything could end,” Noble said.

The agreement is expected to be approved by both the Ottawa Elementary School Board and the Ottawa City Council at one of their future meetings.

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