Geneva TIF2 Nonsense: When “But for” Really Means “In Spite of…”

Parcel Details for 1202380047 (

This beautiful home is in the “blighted” Geneva TIF2 District on Geneva’s East Side. In 2022, the owners paid over $13,500 into the TIF2 slush fund according to their last tax bill. They paid less than $1000 to Geneva School District #304. Of course, the owners had no say in the allocation, but the Geneva City Council did. When the TIF2 District expires soon, Genevans can expect the Mayor and Council to crow about the enormous “windfall” that would not have come to the School District “but for” the City’s sagacity in generating the “Tax Increment.” But, in reality, most of the increment has been caused by inflation and by investments like the above home that were made “in spite of” and not “but for” Tax Increment District 2. The “windfall” from “TIF1” that occurred after it expired lasted about 2 years and then blew away into the black hole of 2009 with the “Great Recession.” Guess who rushed to appeal their assessments. If you guessed the homeowners, you’d be wrong. The only homeowner I know of who appealed (unsuccessfully) his assessment was Mayor Burns (back when he actually owned a Geneva home). But many of the TIF1 beneficiaries successfully appealed their assessments. TIF1 was so unsuccessful that essentially the same area has been “re-TIF’ed” as TIF3. TIFs are the gifts that just keep on raising taxes of current Geneva homeowners so that future homeowners can reap the benefits (if any benefit actually ever accrues). Until then the City can continue to give money away to restaurants, funeral homes, meat markets, pharmacies, etc.

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