Barrington's 2013 Operating Budget Sparks TIF Controversy

Opponents of the Hough/Main project say they would rather see residential space instead of office in the new development.


Village of Barrington officials presented its 2013 budget before the Board of Trustees and members of the public during a public hearing Monday. 

As in years past, the budget presented was balanced and conservative, given the current economic times.

Jason Hayden, Barrington’s director of community and financial services, took the podium to present the budget. In similar fashion to the Nov. 19 Town Hall Meeting, some controversy erupted over the tax increment financing (TIF) District, specifically the new Hough/Main development project.

Mike Kozel, Barrington resident and Board of Trustees candidate in the 2013 election, said the plan, which calls for retail and office space, doesn’t meet the needs of today’s market. Running-mate Jim Magnanenzi said Barrington’s office space is at a 30 percent vacancy rate, and more office space just isn’t needed in this town. The pair, along with JoAnn Fletcher who is also running for village trustee, say residential space would be more appropriate and needed in Barrington. 

Village President Karen Darch said the developer created a plan the current market will support, and plans will only move forward if a certain percentage of units are leased before construction begins.

The village used TIF District funds to purchase $10 million of land for the Hough/Main project. Village officials say the Evanston-based developer will invest an additional $10 to $12 million building 50,000 square feet of mixed-use retail and office space on the property. The village plans to lease 35 percent of the land to the developer for $1 per year for 99 years. After five years, the village as the option to sell that land if they desire. The remaining portion of the purchased land will be used as public parking. 

Kozel and Magnanenzi also criticize the village's ability to pay off what they call $23,000,000 in TIF District expenditures.  

Hayden spoke of the financial side of the project, saying 68 percent of the village’s total debt, including TIF District debts, will be retired in 10 years, and 100 percent will be retired in 17 years. 

As for the rest of the 2013 village budget, Hayden estimates total projected revenue will be $27.4 million. Revenue will decline slightly due to a decrease in grant money in the Capital Improvement Fund.

From that revenue, $21.1 million will be spent on operating expenditures, $3 million on debt services expenditures, and $3.3 on capital improvements.

Some of the major improvements happening in the village in 2013 include the engineering for the Route 14 grade separation project funded by a annual road projects, and the Main Street water main project. 

Scott Kozak November 28, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I think most Barrington residents want a vibrant and lively downtown. The TIF district and this project are taking steps towards that. If you don't like it, there's an election coming up ... but don't be surprised when you're on the losing side.
Nellie H December 06, 2012 at 08:20 PM
There are a glut of open office spaces for rent. The village has a webpage on the Village of Barrington website, with 80+ listings, some with multiple office suites, and there is just no interest. NO ONE WANTS OR NEEDS TO RENT OFFICE SPACE. The economy is not healthy enough to allow a developer a special deal so that he can set his rent artificially low, if he can even find a tenant. The current business tax base is not getting any kind of deal. But they sure will be on the hook for the fallout. This is just awful.
Nellie H December 06, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Tax increment financing, or TIF, is a public financing method that is used for subsidizing redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects. The TIF district comprises the business district in town, the same tax payers who cannot find tenants for their glut of available office space. Yet they are subsidizing their own demise, since this development may end up taking the few tenants that may be interested in office space. This developer/village can comfortably set low rents since they are financially supported by the other businesses. This is not the time to take this gamble.
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