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Elmhurst District 205, city express intent to sign TIF, stormwater agreement

Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education members meet regarding an intergovernmental agreement to address city of Elmhurst stormwater management projects and District 205 facility improvements Sept. 17 in the Yorker Room at York Community High School.
Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education members meet regarding an intergovernmental agreement to address city of Elmhurst stormwater management projects and District 205 facility improvements Sept. 17 in the Yorker Room at York Community High School.

ELMHURST – The city of Elmhurst and the Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education have moved toward creating an intergovernmental agreement regarding stormwater projects.

The school board met Sept. 17 in York Community High School's Yorker Room following the State of the Schools address, where they voted unanimously in support of board President Kara Caforio signing a memorandum of understanding between the two governmental bodies to improve stormwater management and school district facilities.

The memorandum states the school district would grant the city of Elmhurst an easement at York and Jackson Elementary School for the city to use a portion of the sites for stormwater management projects at the city's expense.

At Jackson, the city would use a rectangular grass area to the north of the school building, reconfigure the school's parking lot and add parking spaces to allow for school bus circulation around the west side of the school, the memorandum stated. The project would allow for the use of the project area for school playground and educational purposes when stormwater is not present.

The portion of the York site would be bounded by the main entrance and exit drive from St. Charles Road, according to the memorandum. York physical education, athletics and extracurriculars could use the space when stormwater is not present.

The city also would transfer $1.5 million from TIF 1 to TIF 4 for facility improvements to Churchville and Conrad Fischer schools, or the district could have the city transferpart or all of that money to the Downtown TIF for district facility improvements in the Downtown TIF area. The transferwould not diminish the city's obligation under the North York TIF 4 intergovernmental agreement between the city and the district, the memorandum stated.

The city also would pay the district $550,000 for facility improvements, including $50,000 for improvement of the gravel lot at Bryan Middle School. The district would need to bring the gravel lot into compliance with city ordinances by Sept. 1, 2019.

A 2004 intergovernmental agreement would be terminated with the signing of the new agreement, and the district would make a covenant not to sue the city regarding the 2004 agreement, the abolishment of TIF 1 and the establishment of the Downtown TIF, the memorandum stated.

Through the 2004 agreement, the city was obligated to release some surplus funding from TIFs to the school district. However, the district had accused the city of breaking promises related to that compensation, saying the city hadn’t given the district what it was owed as part of the agreement.

The city and district will try to complete the new agreement with final approval by Oct. 23, according to the memorandum.

According to a document posted Sept. 19 on the district's website, Mayor Steve Morley signed the memorandum Sept. 17 and Caforio signed it Sept. 18.

"The school district is very pleased to have reached this agreement in principle and looks forward to completion of the final comprehensive agreement, the stormwater management projects and the improvement of the school district's facilities for the benefit of the Elmhurst community," Caforio said in a statement at the Sept. 17 meeting.

School board member John McDonough said at the meeting that Caforio's signing of the memorandum demonstrates the board's intention to ultimately approve the final intergovernmental agreement, which will be a settlement with the city regarding the TIF program and stormwater issues.

"We think this is a road map forward to have that [TIF] program balance the benefits between those development needs that the city has expressed and the educational needs of this community, which we think are very important. .... I think this is a good step toward bringing the government entities in Elmhurst back together, working together on these things together," McDonough said.

Caforio said Sept. 19 the memorandum of understanding is the first step of the agreement, which needs to be finalized by the attorneys and then voted upon.

"The final agreement should look pretty similar, but the legal details need to be worked out," she said.

Caforio said the district would determine how best to use the $2.05 million it could receive from the city upon receiving it, but it will likely be used for facility improvements as that is the district's "greatest need." It would not change the ballot question for the November referendum, but it would save the taxpayers money and benefit the community, she said.

Caforio said she hoped the school board would be able to vote on the intergovernmental agreement at a meeting in October.

Morley and Elmhurst City Manager Jim Grabowski could not immediately be reached for comment.

Board Vice President Margaret Harrell and member Chris Blum were absent from the Sept. 17 meeting.

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