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Wants increased village transparency
Letter to the Editor
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Published: 8/17/2009 12:10 AM

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Recently I read Village Manager Ken Fritz claim Schaumburg has no property tax ("Schaumburg cancels Christmas market," July 28). Over the years Mayor Larson and other village officials have repeatedly claimed the village has never assessed a property tax.

There is just one problem. It's just not true.

The Village of Schaumburg has collected $21,032,565 in property taxes for the Old Schaumburg Center TIF district from 1989 through 2008, and the Village Board recently passed an ordinance to collect an additional $120 million in property taxes over the next 23 years for the STAR line Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district surrounding the Schaumburg Convention Center and Hotel.

Because of state law, not a single cent of property taxes collected for TIF districts ever shows up on property tax bills. Instead, a percentage of the money itemized for local school districts, park districts, libraries and other taxing bodies are diverted without notification on tax bills. Currently 8 percent of property taxes in Cook County and Schaumburg are diverted in this fashion.

To combat this lack of tax transparency the Schaumburg Freedom Coalition has repeatedly asked Schaumburg to post the Olde Schaumburg Center's annual TIF reports, and key STAR line TIF District documents including the Project Cost Estimates online prior to the ordinance vote approving $120 million in new property taxes.

We asked for increased transparency because we were shocked to find out, through FOIA requests, Schaumburg plans to spend $94 million of the $120 million in new property taxes on corporate welfare subsidies to real estate developers.

Unfortunately, transparency proposals by the Schaumburg Freedom Coalition have been wholeheartedly rejected by the Village and none of the mentioned documents currently appear on Schaumburg's Web site. We hope the Village changes their minds on transparency. After all, why should they fear an informed citizenry?

Brian Costin