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Bloomington council holds public hearing on proposed downtown TIF district

A man walks across the street in downtown Bloomington
WGLT file
The downtown area is the site of the new proposed TIF district in the City of Bloomington.

The Bloomington City Council held a public hearing Monday concerning the proposed new Tax Increment Finance [TIF] district concentrated around the downtown area. A TIF district diverts any new taxes generated by an increase in property values back into redevelopment of the area.

The council previously proposed a downtown TIF district in 2018, but axed the plan after the District 87 school district objected amid concerns that TIF districts erode the tax base and divert potential revenue away from schools.

Current District 87 superintendent David Mouser spoke about the new proposal at a school board meeting in June. He said while the district continues to have concerns about the potential for a downtown TIF district, officials are working with their own lawyers and with city officials to move past them.

City officials said Monday the final proposal for the new TIF district is pending an intergovernmental agreement with District 87. The final proposal is anticipated to be considered at the next city council meeting on July 22.

Melissa Hon, the city's economic and community development director, told the council “this TIF will be a vital tool to spur private investment in order to achieve the complete revitalization of downtown Bloomington.”

Hon said the equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of the area is projected to grow from $37.5 million to $59.4 million due to the impact of the new TIF district. In response to a public hearing commenter, she added that both private and public investment in infrastructure is the city’s highest need at this time, which is what city officials believe the TIF will bring.

Several other residents also spoke during public comment or during the hearing about the TIF. Mainly, there was confusion about what it might mean for residents of the area, particularly about whether surrounding commercial properties will be razed.

“To my knowledge, we’re not looking to tear anything down,” said Hon. Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe confirmed this.

Landlord fees

Also Monday, the council approved its consent agenda that included an ordinance raising fines for landlords who dispose of residents’ waste and belongings in bulk on the city’s streets. There will be increased fines for repeat offenders.

Ward 7 council member Mollie Ward spoke passionately in favor of the ordinance, saying this has been a particular problem in her own neighborhood for some time. She described her children having to walk through piles of “garbage” as they walked to Bent Elementary School growing up.

Ward said the act of disposing of waste this way “sends the message that not only is the neighborhood trashy, but they’re trash.”

The ordinance passed, and will change the blanket fine of $25 per “scoop” of bulk waste to a scaled system based on the number and severity of offenses.

Adeline Schultz is a correspondent at WGLT. She joined the station in 2024.