O'Fallon, Ill school district says tax breaks for new developmen - KMOV.com

O'Fallon, Ill school district says tax breaks for new development will put school funding at risk

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O'FALLON, Ill. (KMOV.com) -

New businesses and jobs could be coming to O'Fallon thanks to a tax incentive proposal, but the city's school district says the new development plan could come at the cost of children's education.

O'Fallon District 90 school board member Todd Roach says the city's recent approval of a new TIF district could cripple the cash-strapped district by millions.

“This is 23 years that the city is basically saying you're not going to benefit from any development,” explained Roach.

The O'Fallon City Council approved the Central City TIF district at Monday's meeting. It includes plans for the city's downtown area and the partially vacant South View Plaza. It will give developers a tax incentive for building in these areas.

“The idea of something happening without the TIF, there really has been anything that's gone on in the last 20 years,” explained City Administrator Walter Denton.

The problem for the schools is they would only receive a tiny portion of the taxes that come from the new development.

“90 percent would go to the developer, 10 would go to the school districts,” explained Denton.

Roach says the school district is asking for a greater percentage, saying this could ultimately cost the districts $7 million over the next two decades.

“That's taking away resources we could spend towards students, teachers, and the buildings,” Roach said.

Sal Cincotta owns a photography studio in O'Fallon and plans to expand into one of the historic buildings in downtown. He says he can't do it without the TIF. However, he adds the school district won't get any taxes from a building that remains vacant.

“Without the TIF this is going to continue to sit here for another 20 years. My business can't afford to sink in 40 percent more than the appraised value, that's just bad business,” says Cincotta.

Cincotta hopes the expansion could bring between 30-60 jobs to O'Fallon.

The city says they will wait to officially sign off on the plan to allow more negotiations with the district. The district says unless a better deal is crafted, they will consider legal action.

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