Harrisburg undecided about 'TIF' money

Mayor Eric Gregg
Mayor Eric Gregg
Superintendent Dennis Smith
Superintendent Dennis Smith
The meeting Thursday morning.
The meeting Thursday morning.

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - The money is there, it's what to do with it that has leaders in one Heartland city scratching their heads.

We're talking about more than half a million dollars of tax increment finance, or "TIF" money in Harrisburg.

And time is running out for the city to decide how best to spend it.

Because all of the projects in the original TIF or tax increment finance plan are completed, several different groups presented their ideas on how to spend the rest of the money at a meeting Thursday morning.

One of those at the meeting, Superintendent Dennis Smith.

He says the school district should get a share of the more than two million dollars that's left.

"Were bleeding as a school district, we are cutting too much," says Smith.

His argument, a perfectly constructed community with a struggling school district won't help bring businesses to the area.

"It's kind of the chicken or the egg, are you going to fix the schools to bring in the people or are you going to fix the infrastructure and it kind of goes back and forth," says Smith.

Smith says the district has cut 16 teachers in the past three years and will likely have to borrow money next school year.

He says a portion the TIF funds would help prevent that.

Another major project needing financial aid, the city's sewer treatment plant.

Mayor Eric Gregg agrees-but says the city has to do what's best with money.

"We have to make sure we are putting it in the best direction for every single individual in this city and in this area and every business in this area. That is what we are driving towards today," says Gregg.

The TIF money needs to be spent by December 2014.

A public forum on the issue is set for April 30th at Harrisburg city hall.

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