By Chris Johnson

News Correspondent

The Village of Pecatonica invited comment during the most recent meeting of the municipal administrators. All six Trustees were in attendance as the knowledge on the need for action on the proposed TIF District was brought to residents and business owners for the final time before a roll call vote would be requested.

The development of a TIF District was in discussion based on the possibility of seeing new construction begin on the south side of the Village of Pecatonica. The retail outlet, Dollar General, had requested certain benefits from the Village in exchange for proceeding with plans to open a new facility on Main Street. The measure required the addition of land and the approval of a TIF District which would encapsulate a large percentage of the taxable business properties within the community. The Village Board held public hearings and presented information regarding the need for the TIF District, if the business was to come in. Trustees and Village President Dan Barber had shown a favorable interest throughout the proceedings. Confusion seemed to be the biggest concern. Fear became another. The loss of tax dollars would have impacted the other governmental entities such as the Fire Protection District, the Library District and the Public School System.

Public impact was also felt at the Tuesday, Dec. 20 meeting as various citizens in attendance voiced their disapproval to the Board’s discussion. At one point a clipboard crashed to the floor, followed by a citizen not choosing to follow rules of proceedings as, on multiple-occasions, chanted disapproval from the viewing area. Eventually the citizen left after receiving information from the Board that his actions were not allowed at that point in the proceedings. Even a Trustee, who was not allowed to vote on the issue as a result of business interest in the proposed area, spoke up. With the understanding that a vote of “abstain” was to be issued, no discussion would be allowed. It was a violation of rules-of-order. An abstention means no comments either. The Trustee acknowledged the inability to vote, yet still added comment stating that if a vote was allowable it would be a no-answer.

In all, 22 citizens spent their time hearing comments including one made by Pecatonica School District Board President Steve Gorman as he addressed the Village Board regarding the perception of a zero sum game.

“The way the TIF is set up, for you to win, everyone else has to lose. It’s a zero-sum game. With the TIF we are taking the one pool of money and redistributing it. You are taking away from other taxing bodies. It is just not right.”

One of the issues with redistributing taxing dollars has to do with the reality that certain governmental entities are not in the business of making money. There are rules about running a profit based on the use of tax dollars at implementation. When money is taken away from one group of people and given to another, a lot of impact will filter down. Things that are going very well can collapse, according to Pecatonica Superintendent of Schools Bill Faller.

“We have been doing a great job with our kids. The numbers show we are doing something good. Our schools have earned three Academic Excellence Awards. We earned the Bright Start for being fiscally responsible. The Elementary School was a National Blue Ribbon winner. Our high school WISE team was the State Champion. Last week our kids won the Rt. 72 Academic Bowl.”

Faller said when numbers are compared from 2002 property tax values were listed at over 100-million dollars. In 2014 the property value was just over 87-million dollars.

The vote to allow the TIF failed with only Village President Dan Barber voting in the affirmative.

The Village Board did agree to annex a portion of land south of the current village limits.