ROCKFORD - Rockford city officials are now looking over blueprints for the new Save-A-Lot store to be built at West State and Central Avenue. While the project is needed, it can only be built if the city invests a half-million taxpayer dollars from the local TIF district.
A TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) is a tool used by the City to improve areas throughout Rockford by using incremental tax revenue, gathered from rising property taxes, to improve conditions in the defined neighborhood.
"The 2.5-to-3 million dollar investment is IFF investment. There will be another half-a-million to a million [investment] from Save-A-Lot, so the total picture you are seeing anywhere from three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half million dollars [to pay for the new construction],” said Todd Cagnoni, the Director of Community Economic Development for the City of Rockford.
TIF districts are controversial because of a report last year that showed many of them deep in the red, and those may need to be bailed out by Rockford taxpayers. However, city officials say the Save-A-Lot project will end up paying for itself. "Over the remaining life of the TIF, which is about 15 years, this project will generate half a million dollars," said Cagnoni.
In addition, it will produce cash to support other developments in the same area. "The agreement that we have is that in seven years they cannot protest-tax their taxes in the community, so it would generate more dollars back into the TIF,” said Ann Thompson-Kelly, alderman for the city 7th ward.
City officials say that what makes this project special is that unlike other stores, this grocery store will have fresh produce, a butcher on hand, and no alcohol will be sold at the store. It will bring more jobs to an area that needs them.
"I'm hoping that we will also work with the operators of this store to help identify local residents who would be employed by that store from that neighborhood to try and keep money in that neighborhood," said Michael Williams, Director for Rock River Training.
Rockford’s Code and Regulation Committee will discuss the project next Tuesday, and then it goes to the full City Council.