Des Plaines city officials continued working through the city’s 2012 proposed budget at the second of three budget hearings Oct. 12.
Wednesday night’s talks centered on projects and equipment not related to the city’s general fund, and it looks like Des Plaines’ downtown core will see a lot of renovations in 2012.
Funding for all of these projects will come from the city’s Tax Increment Finance funding, or TIF’s. A TIF district is created when a local government freezes the tax base on properties within a certain area. All new property taxes in that district, which are generated by an increase in property value since the year the TIF started, are put into a special fund established for redevelopment projects within the district.
As part of the city’s goal to create an attractive downtown and maintain infrastructure, plans to replace sidewalks and irrigation systems were discussed. Some council members had reservations about the scale of the project and wanted to know more details.
“This is quite a big bite,” Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten said.
If the project is approved, sidewalks on Miner Street near City Hall and the Des Plaines Theatre would be replaced, as would sidewalks on Ellinwood and Lee streets. Decorative lighting will also be added, said Tim Oakley, director of public works and engineering.
The project would cost $2.75 million. Plans will be discussed at the third budget hearing Nov. 2.
Des Plaines Metra station
Des Plaines’ aging Metra station in downtown is due for an update and preliminary proposals show the cost to be approximately $500,000.
Proposed plans include renovations that would make space for an updated coffee shop and new seating by combining the station’s dated retail space and unused taxi stand.
“Right now [the coffee shop] is really just a glorified closet,” said Third Ward Alderman Matt Bogusz.
Officials wanted to make the space attractive so that national coffee vendors, like Starbucks, would consider a move to the station.
By having a newer, more attractive station, the city could earn money from the building, Bogusz said.
Façade Rehabilitation Program
Des Plaines aldermen are considering whether they should eliminate funding for the Façade Rehabilitation Program. An overhaul of the program was discussed earlier this year after one organization almost received $70,000 in incentives out of a $100,000 fund.
Aldermen said they want to tighten the rules and clarify who and which projects qualify for the funding.
The program was established by the Economic Development Commission to encourage business owners in the downtown district to improve storefronts and bring in more pedestrian traffic. Tenants and owners eligible for the reimbursement may qualify for one third to half of project costs to improve their storefronts.
Officials will continue discussion on the program at the Nov. 2 budget hearing.
In other business council members discussed the possibility of purchasing a new fire truck, something also discussed last year.
According to the city’s vehicle replacement schedule, the truck should have been replaced last year, but because of the economic downturn, the city decided to wait. This year officials will likely approve a $20,000 study to look at truck maintenance or replacement options.