ELMHURST – The Development, Planning and Zoning Committee decided at its Aug. 27 meeting to advance staff proposals for new TIF assistance programs for North York TIF 4, Lake Street TIF 5 and the Downtown TIF for the Elmhurst City Council's consideration.
Tom Trosien, the director of finance for the city of Elmhurst, presented financial options at the meeting for supporting businesses in the three TIFs using accrued money from the TIFs, including a facade program, signage program and retail grant program.
Assistant City Manager Mike Kopp said at the meeting the city also could use the money to pay off debt. The city previously has chosen to carry the debt and spend money on other projects, he said.
"These are programs we think are the right programs for these TIF districts," Kopp said.
The Downtown TIF, which took a portion of the no-longer-existing TIF 1, will not have accrued money until next year since it was just recently established this spring, Trosien said.
The committee agreed to recommend the following budget dollars for 2019: a sign incentive program at $20,000 for each of the mentioned TIF districts, a facade incentive program at $150,000 for those districts and a retail grant incentive program at $100,000 for both TIF 4 and the Downtown TIF and at $50,000 for TIF 5, according to post-meeting minutes.
All three programs would be administered by staff with final approval by the city manager, according to a June 21 memo Business Development Coordinator Erin Jason provided to the committee.
The facade incentive program would assist with the reimbursement of as much as 50 percent of a business's verified, qualified expenditures, such as those related to exteriors, landscape design and exterior lighting, the memo stated.
The retail grant would assist new retail sales tax- or food and beverage-producing businesses in the three TIFs, or retail sales tax- or food and beverage-producing businesses expanding their footprint within the three TIF districts, with as much as 50 percent of verified, qualified expenditures for marketing efforts and construction, according to the memo. No more than 50 percent of the overall reimbursement amount could go to construction costs, the memo stated.
With the sign grant program, Elmhurst would offer businesses financial assistance to replace their box signs, which are no longer allowed in the city, with individually lettered signs since they are expensive, Kopp said after the meeting.
Kopp and city planner Eileen Franz said the rationale for the city trying to get the businesses to replace their box signs was because the signs are not as aesthetically pleasing.
"New business people will say to me, 'I can't believe how expensive my sign is.' .... It's definitely one that we're seeing as a proactive, 'Please help change the look of the North York corridor and Lake Street and downtown. Update your signs,'" Jason said at the meeting.
Financial assistance for businesses to replace signage would be, pending City Council approval, paid for through the 2019 city budget. The application process for the signage and facade programs would begin Jan. 1, 2019.
Businesses can begin to apply for retail grants upon the council's approval of the measure, and the businesses can receive financial assistance retroactively in 2019, Kopp said.
The committee plans to present a report at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 4.