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Normal City Council member Jeff Fritzen, left, answers questions about a proposal to extend the Uptown Normal tax increment financing district at Tuesday night's Heartland Community College board meeting on the campus in Normal while Mayor Chris Koos listens.

NORMAL — The Heartland Community College board of trustees on a 5-2 vote Tuesday night backed the town of Normal's proposal to extend the uptown tax increment financing district an additional 12 years.

The town is seeking the extension to give it greater flexibility in seeking developers for several parcels near Uptown Circle. The TIF district, which diverts increased property tax revenue generated by improvements into a fund for economic development incentives and infrastructure improvements in the district, currently is set to expire in 2026.

The town needs state legislative approval to extend the TIF district and is seeking support from the affected taxing bodies. If the extension is approved, the town intends to enter into intergovernmental agreements with the taxing bodies under which they would receive tax dollars from properties within the district except for select, designated “developmental parcels.”

Board member Mary Campbell said, “I have concerns when I see the competition this creates for other businesses in Normal and Bloomington."

Campbell voted against the proposal, along with student trustee Josh Crockett.

Voting in favor were trustees Gregg Chadwick, Jeff Flessner, Don Gibb, Janet Hood and Becky Ropp. Pat Hardesty was absent.

In response to Campbell's concerns about competition from new businesses, Normal City Council member Jeff Fritzen said, “It is a bit of a survival of the fittest … but that's what incentivizes them to get better.”

Representatives of the town of Normal said the likelihood of the parcels being developed is reduced without a public-private partnership and there might not be enough time to put together a deal without an extension of the TIF district.

Fritzen said the recession that occurred during the redevelopment of uptown Normal, combined with changes in banking laws during that time, had a negative impact, contributing to the need for the TIF extension.

“We believe this tool has been successful,” said City Manager Pam Reece. “But our work is not yet done.”

Reece pointed out that equalized assessed valuation within the TIF district increased by 180 percent in 14 years while EAV growth across the town as a whole in that period was 16 percent.

Heartland trustee Janet Hood said the agreement would help Normal “to be a really resilient community today, tomorrow and for future generations.”

Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota

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Education Reporter

Education Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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