A tentative deal has been brokered to extend the Prairie Stone Economic Development Area in Hoffman Estates, home to Sears corporate headquarters.
The Illinois House Revenue Committee Chairman, State Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), made the announcement today Friday during a hearing on a proposed package of tax incentives designed to keep companies such as Sears from leaving the state. Bradley couldn’t say, however, what the deal among the city of Hoffman Estates, School District 300 and Sears includes.
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“Tentatively they said, subject to wording, that they’d reached an agreement on how to resolve the specific issues with regard to the EDA,” says Bradley.
Allison Strupek, spokesman for District 300, says many of the district’s concerns were addressed at a Wednesday meeting involving Sears, the city and the school district – the first time all three parties have sat together. Also included in Wednesday discussions were State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), Bradley and a handful of other lawmakers.
Strupek says some of the district’s concerns are as follows:
- There must be a Joint Review Board, composed of taxing bodies within the Prairie Stone Economic Development Area, to provide ongoing oversight of fund management.
- There must be a yearly audit of the EDA up to the standards of the Illinois comptroller.
- The district wants the EDA to go away whenever Sears reaches its goal of economic incentives derived from the area, which has been pegged at $125 million. That could take as few as nine years to reach, or as many as 15.
- No EDA funds can be used for upkeep of the Sears Centre Arena, which the city of Hoffman Estates purchased two years ago.
- Hoffman Estates should get less money from the EDA. Strupek says Hoffman Estates brings in $5.65 million with help from the EDA; without it the city would receive $3.3 million. She suggests more money go toward District 300, which receives $2.9 million of its annual $21 million property tax intake from the EDA.
Sears says talks on such an EDA deal are ongoing and wouldn’t comment further; Hoffman Estates’ mayor says there is no deal – and he has not approved of anything.