Village Panel Considering Economic Development Incentives
In the wake of recent deliberations over granting a Cook County 6b tax break to a business interested in moving into Northbrook, Village President Sandy Frum has formed an Economic Development Ad Hoc Committee to help devise other types of incentives to offer as alternatives to the 6b. Trustee Todd Heller will head the committee which also includes fellow Trustees Mike Scolaro and Kathryn Ciesla with Jim Karagianis as an alternate.
The 6b tax program reduces the overall property tax bill for businesses over the course of 12 years. The guidelines for granting the 6b are specific and sometimes complex and often Trustees are asked to make exceptions based on other factors. Trustees must also wrestle with the impact of the 6b on school districts, who bear the brunt of the lost tax revenues during the lengthy time period. Recently the Village rejected a request from manufacturer MicroLink Devices for a 6b on property it wished to purchase in Sky Harbor, based largely on the precedent it would set and because of the objections expressed by one of the school districts. Ultimately MicroLink did not go through with the purchase of the property.
Heller, a frequent opponent of the 6b, expects the committee to consider a number of fresh ideas that the Village can use to attract businesses into Northbrook. “I feel there are many other options worth considering, including taking a look at the fees we charge businesses, for example. Also, we can take a look at sales tax abatement or other more specific incentives such as road improvements.” A report outlining some of the suggestions, will ultimately be presented to Village Trustees, he says.
Trustee Ciesla believes the Village should make it clear to businesses that Northbrook is willing to be open to creative alternatives. “I would like to see Northbrook communicate to businesses and developers that we are innovative, open to offering incentives and want to build our businesses,” she notes. “It should be part of our cultural values that we are open to change.” She also points to incentives that could be offered for things like green buildings. Ciesla also believes an important component of any final recommendation should also include ideas for retaining businesses.
“Clearly, it is in our collective best interests to attract and maintain healthy sustainable businesses. While there are tools available, each comes with its own set of issues,” notes Trustee Scolaro. “It is important for us to investigate each of the economic tools for what is appropriate for Northrook. I commend President Frum for creating this process.”
Both Heller and Ciesla hope to look to other communities and their economic development programs as a starting point for discussions. The meetings will be published on the Village website and will be open to the public. Anyone interested in sharing their ideas or suggestions is encouraged to contact any of the Trustees through the Village website www.northbrook.il.us.