A special taxing district designated decades ago in downtown Libertyville continues to provide 10 local governments with annual cash rebates used for a variety of purposes.
While the amount might not be big in the overall budget picture of each entity, the money is welcome.
Libertyville will rebate an estimated $2.65 million to the taxing bodies -- including itself -- that tax property downtown. The amounts range from $15,848 to the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency to $999,761 to Libertyville Elementary District 70.
Cook Memorial Public Library District, for example, will use a portion of its estimated $100,227 rebate to renovate and furnish programming space in the lower level of the Cook Park Library in Libertyville.
The flexible space is called "The Workshop," library Director David Archer said, and it will be used for hands-on science and technology programs and for patrons to use a variety of tools, such as sewing machines and vinyl cutters.
"The additional funds have also enabled us to keep our materials budget at a level to meet patron demand for high-demand book and movie titles," Archer said.
Actually, the rebates are the agencies' own money. However, because the downtown area has been designated a tax increment financing district, most of the property taxes on the increased property values since 1986 have been diverted.
Taxes collected on the higher property values don't go to taxing bodies but have been kept in a special fund for projects and other expenses in the designated area.
Generally, the life span of a TIF is 23 years. But, in 2009, Libertyville received state approval to extend it until Dec. 31, 2021 to complete various projects. In exchange for local support, the village agreed to rebate 70 percent of the increment to each taxing body.
Most use the rebate for general operations but others target specific expenses.
"We will be using the monies to pay off capital bonds and fund part of the current Rockland (School) addition," said Kurt Valentin, District 70's assistant superintendent of finance and operations.
The recently completed $5.3 million addition: doubled the size of the gym; added music and art rooms; created a new parking lot for staff; added a new access door on the west side of the school; and, renovated the front office to improve security.
Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 will use its $876,840 cut for Libertyville High School classroom renovations and furniture for innovative learning spaces.
Since the special taxing district was established, the downtown commercial area has been transformed from a tired stretch of storefronts dotted with vacancies to a vibrant area known for eclectic shops and variety of restaurants. Funds have paid for parking and other improvements.