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PAXTON — About 15 residents and property owners attended a Paxton City Council-hosted public meeting last Wednesday to explain changes to a proposed redevelopment plan for the city’s proposed tax-increment financing district.
The meeting was for informational purposes only and does not replace a public hearing that must also be held prior to implementing the TIF district.
Representatives of other taxing bodies lying within the district told Mayor Bill Ingold they were in support of the plan. No aldermen attended.
But resident Stan Fredrickson, who also represented Patton Township, expressed concern that the process has taken so long — five years — and that no aldermen were present.
Meanwhile, Frank Piekarski of Harvey, whose business FTP Properties owns three downtown buildings, was assured by the city’s TIF attorney, Dan Schuering, that the city had no intenton to buy out current property owners and bring in its own developers.
“Our first goal is to work with current owners, said Schuering.
Bill Wylie, a former alderman who has served as the city’s representative on a joint review board made up of representatives of the various taxing bodies affected by the TIF district, reiterated what he said at a public hearing held in March. Wylie said he has been in town 40 years and has watched the business community “slide downhill” in that time. He said the assessed property value within city limits has plateaued at $45 million and in recent years has headed downward.
“Paxton is at risk of becoming an economic backwater. We must do something so we don’t lose the vitality of this community,” Wylie said.
The mayor is upbeat about what the district can do. Once money becomes available, Ingold told several business property owners attending, “We can assist with almost everything except put up new buildings or pay salaries.” Ingold promised workshops for property owners as well as one-on-one meetings with them.
At its regular September meeting, the city council is expected to set the date for a new public hearing for the TIF district. The hearing is expected to occur sometime in October, and individual property owners will again be notified by mail beforehand.
A proposed redevelopment plan for the TIF district has a new map showing more properties involved. There are now more than 75 residences included in the proposed TIF district, along with several commercial properties on North Market Street that were not originally included.
Some of the property added to the TIF district includes the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district’s bus garage, several residences, Paxton Ready Mix and Bull’s Custom Shop, all on North Market Street
The city has been working with Schuering to implement the TIF district for five years. After a public hearing was held in March, the TIF district was supposed to be implemented no later than June this year. However, the city was required to delay its implementation this summer because the city did not meet all of its legal obligations when a public hearing for the TIF district was held in March.
Schuering has said that a new hearing will be held not only because a legal notice was not published in a local newspaper in advance of the public hearing in March, but also because of significant changes to the TIF district’s redevelopment plan that were made since the initial public hearing.
The TIF district would generate money as properties are improved in the district, which includes the Interstate 57 and downtown areas. Rantoul developer Joe Warner has acquired several parcels of land both east and west of I-57. East of I-57 and south of Ottawa Road, Warner is proposing a “multi-faceted” residential and commercial subdivision. West of I-57, he is proposing a variety of uses including multi-family housing and commercial and industrial facilities.
Schuering has said that there are “ongoing discussions” between the city and Warner and his attorney regarding a proposed annexation agreement that will be attached to the final redevelopment plan.