Another TIF? Why City Leaders Say One on Auburn Could Prove Successful

ROCKFORD -- The City of Rockford proposes an idea to boost business in one of the most challenging areas of town.
ROCKFORD -- The City of Rockford proposes an idea to boost business in one of the most challenging areas of town.

On Auburn Street, from Day Avenue all the way to Kilburn, sites of blight plague the area, like the old Amerock building.  It's a part the seventh ward that Alderman Ann Thompson-Kelly wants to turn around with a Tax Increment Finance district, focused on small businesses.

"This is the type of businesses that we need to assist in and help them maintain and grow their businesses as well as grow jobs and opportunities," said Ald. Thompson-Kelly (D-7th Ward).

Council discussed the proposed 33rd TIF district, Tuesday night. They'll vote on it next week, and Thompson-Kelly expects it will pass, because the area is in such dire shape.

"I think the businessmen on Auburn, especially Auburn Street businessmen is going to be very, very pleased and the entire community," Thompson-Kelly said.

But TIF's in Rockford don't have the best track record. They are meant to improve property values, but in Rockford of the 32 the city has, 27 lost value in 2013. And that's a big problem because the city's own analysis found that Rockford taxpayers could be on the hook for more than seven-million dollar in TIF losses, and that's assuming property values increase, not decline.

"We've had declining values throughout the city throughout the state of Illinois and the country so it's not surprising that within our tax increment financing districts that we've also seen some decline," said Todd Cagnoni, Director of Community and Economic Development Department. 

But Todd Cagnoni points out that some of the TIFs have been successful in creating thousands of jobs, and he has hopes that one targetting this specific area of Auburn could do the same.

"One of the cornor stone properties within the redevelopment plan area is the previous Amerock site at Central and Auburn," said Cagnoni. "It once had hundreds of employees which are no longer in existence."

Again, the official vote on the Auburn Street TIF will be next Monday.

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