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Homewood Mayor: We Need to Improve Intergovernmental Communication

Representatives from Homewood’s other taxing bodies appeared at the Dec. 11 meeting to ask the board to table a vote to spend nearly $1 million in economic development so a joint meeting could be held to discuss the decision.

Homewood trustees passed an agreement to provide $900,000 in TIF money for the development of a new downtown hotel, but not without considerable opposition from the village’s other taxing bodies.

Their chief complaint? The village failed to give them a fair warning of such a large impending financial decision.

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“Our school district was taken aback by the sudden emergence of the proposed financial assistance package for the downtown hotel project …” Shelly Marks, School District 153 Board President, said.

In response, Marks presented the board with a list of questions compiled from her district, the H-F Park District, the Homewood Public Library and H-F High School District 233. She requested the board table the vote until they can address those questions and some of the other issues that have negatively impacted school district funding in the past—such as tax rate objections and non-for-profit conversions.

“Working together, we stand a better chance of protecting our mutual interests and safeguarding our taxpayers investment,” Marks said. “We want to make sure that what you consider doing is really tight so that we’re all benefitting.”

Homewood Public Library Trustee Greg Weiss also requested the vote be tabled.

“One of the things that I’ve learned as a trustee is the notion of due diligence,” Weiss said. “Before such important an decision is made, at the very least, all parties involved should sit down and discuss this prior to a vote, not after—begrudgingly and upset.”

Trustee Anne Colton agreed with both Marks and Weiss. The current lack of intergovernmental communication is a big issue that could have easily been resolved with little more than an early-notice courtesy email, she said. Still, she says she is obligated to consider the business end of the decision.

“At the end of the day … the money is controlled by the village,” Colton said. “I don’t want to add another layer of complexity—we need to stay business friendly.

Trustee Jay Heiferman also said he understands the concerns from the other taxing bodies. His opinion is that they can and will be addressed once the TIF incentive agreement is drafted.

“But least get something on the table so we have something to discuss,” Heiferman said.

Representatives from the developers and the village both addressed some of the submitted questions, but Marks never got her wish. The vote passed 4-1, with Trustee Ray Robertson voting, “no.” Trustee Tom Kataras was absent.

After the meeting, Marks’ face revealed disappointment but not defeat.

“I would have really enjoyed an active discussion,” Marks said. “I think, often, when we get many people in a room with a common interest to keep Homewood strong and viable, we can work together towards a really solid agreement that enhances business development and protects all of the governing bodies.”

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Richard Hofeld and Marks embraced. He too, said he intends to promote better intergovernmental communication and keep the other bodies abreast of their continuing decision-making.

Interior renovations for “La Banque” Hotel are scheduled to begin around the end of January. Developer Dr. Claude Gendreau says he hopes to have the 18-room hotel, located at 2034 Ridge Road, operational by the end of summer 2013.

Juvenal December 15, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. If anyone knows of a thriving 18 room hotel any any inner- ring rust belt suburbs, please let me know -- and "nap rate" specials don't count. You know who else knows nothing about the hotel business? Dr Gendreau. But I'm sure he has lots of advisers eager to help him spend his money...
BlackHawks Fan December 15, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I am curious. How did this hotel go from “35 to 40 guest rooms” in April of 2012 to 18 rooms in December 2012? I am also a bit curious as to why the other taxing bodies couldn’t figure out there would be a generous TIF attached to this project!!! I would think if they were proactive they would have known quite a bit more about this project way before the December meeting. JMHO!!!
BlackHawks Fan December 15, 2012 at 02:11 PM
This is politics as usual in Homewood. All of our taxing bodies think they know what is best for Homewood and really do not care what the tax payers think. Our school districts are a perfect example and generally do the same as the village; that is hold their little meetings to get input and then do whatever they want anyway. Homewood local ~ I beg to differ about your statement, “The dollars in the TIF accounts were "reallocated away from" these same taxing bodies in the first place. Since it was really their money in the first place, they have a responsibility to be sure the it is spent correctly.” All of this money that is allocated is the taxpayers not other taxing bodies and we the people should have a say in everything that is done with our money.
Kathy December 18, 2012 at 06:49 AM
Property taxes too high? Wait til they shoot the teacher pensions back to the school districts !
The ORIGINAL Mike B February 05, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Change of heart-I am dead set against this development. After my own investigation, I am convinced Homewood cannot and will not support such an endeavor, and most of the Ravisloe wedding guests are incredibly cheap and will not stay in anything above the Halsted Budget Inn (jewish people are not known as spendthrifts)

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