DeKalb County Executive Committee to urge full board to spurn DeKalb’s TIF accord
DeKALB – DeKalb County government leaders are recommending for the County Board to reject an agreement in support of the city of DeKalb’s proposed tax increment financing district.
The DeKalb County Executive Committee passed the resolution, 9-0, to turn down an intergovernmental agreement from the city about the TIF district during the committee’s meeting Wednesday night at the DeKalb County Community Outreach Building.
The resolution, drafted by DeKalb County Administrator Gary Hanson, said the agreement presented by the city is “contrary to good public policy.” It said the agreement would ensure the distribution of $11.25 million in current TIF funds to affected taxing bodies “in exchange for ignoring a full accounting of the public’s money and to not hold individuals accountable for mismanagement of those funds.”
Hanson said nothing is stopping the city from moving forward with the new TIF district without input from other taxing bodies. If County Board members agree to the intergovernmental agreement, he said, the county would receive $1 million of the $11.25 million meant to address the concerns of alleged TIF fund misappropriation.
“But it doesn’t prevent the city from giving the money voluntarily, should they decide that’s the right thing to do,” Hanson said.
The resolution also encouraged other affected taxing bodies not to approve the agreement, called for a full and independent forensic audit of all TIF dollars and asked the city not to take any action on the proposed district until a full accounting of TIF dollars is done.
The resolution comes after DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato, who did not attend the meeting, issued an opinion Tuesday night opposing the city’s agreement. He said in the opinion that he understands his position may not be ideal for some taxing bodies that want to take their share of the offered money for their own needs.
“However, we make this recommendation with the belief that the allegations of misuse of TIF funds cannot be passed over without a proper accounting and a determination as to the veracity of those claims,” the opinion read.
DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. said he has been vocal about not being in favor of TIF as a concept, but his recommendation of not approving the agreement is beside the point. He said the resolution is not meant to accuse the city of doing anything wrong and hopes that nothing is uncovered from a forensic audit.
“We want to make sure if they’re going to ask for another TIF, or pursue another TIF, that it’s going to be done in a proper way,” Pietrowski said.
DeKalb School District 428 officials previously raised concerns about administrative fees being incorrectly charged on various TIF projects after the district’s lawyer came across that information while reviewing annual TIF reports from the city over the past few months. The amount ranges from $500,000 to $800,000 a year over at least the past decade, and district officials brought it up to taxing bodies because $800,000 seemed an excessive amount for the city to transfer into its general fund for only administrative costs, District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven had said.
The resolution will go before the DeKalb County Board during its meeting at
7 p.m. Nov. 21.