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Paul Osborne

     Former Decatur City Councilman Bill Faber uses his paid column on page 7 of this week’s print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune to focus some attention on another possible TIF District in Decatur.
It is obvious that Bill takes a dim view of offering another TIF District as he states in his column: “In the risky chase for economic development when the capitalist free market offers no hope and the federal government won’t donate, cities turn to the TIF scheme. So, TIFs are basically a ‘Hail Mary’ in a city’s effort to halt community decline.”
     As another large TIF district is under consideration by the city council, most residents are probably unaware of the definition of a TIF district.
     Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects.
     The original intent of a TIF program was to stimulate private investment in a blighted area that has been designated to be in need of economic revitalization.
     Through the use of TIF, municipalities typically divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined area or district toward an economic development project or public improvement project in the community. The city incurs loss through forgone tax revenue.
     The Decatur City Council approved the TIF district study at its Aug. 7th meeting and the following gave the reasons for moving in that direction:
     “The City is taking steps towards creating a new tax increment financing (TIF) district. Council approved an agreement with PGAV Planners, LLC to prepare TIF development plans. TIF is one of the most effective economic development tools available to Illinois local governments. It allows incremental property taxes to be diverted to development, redevelopment, and site improvement within the TIF district, rather than be collected by the local government. It does NOT raise property taxes. Examples of projects from other TIF districts include the current police station and the Wabash Crossing affordable housing project.”

Bill Faber

     • THERE was a time when such incentives to attract businesses to Decatur were not necessary, but the world has become much more competitive in recent years and incentives are needed to compete with other communities offering incentives. TIF districts are economic development tools for a community but, a legitimate question centers on how many incentives should be given to attract business development?
     Another question is: “Would any business expand or build in an area where there wasn’t some tax reduction incentives?
     As a former city councilman, Bill Faber’s column leaves no doubt how he feels about another TIF district in Decatur.

     • THANKS TO Kay Wallace and the parade committee for the special invitation to participate in Argenta/ Oreana’s 150th Birthday Parade last Saturday.
     Kay wrote: “Our parade committee would like for you to participate in the parade, driving your infamous car (Christine).”
I appreciated the invitation but already had a commitment.
     Christine would have gone but she doesn’t go anywhere without me.(smile)

     • THANKS to neighbor Jim Schwarz for rescuing my wife whose car refused to start in the Walgreen’s parking lot in South Shores last Friday morning.
     Jim had also stopped at Walgreen’s, saw the problem, and happened to have jumper cables in his car, which he used so she could start her car and then drive to the local dealership to have the battery checked out.
Jim refused to accept any payment for the rescue and his help was certainly appreciated.

     • THE PENNY Severns Memorial Reception will be held Monday, Oct. 9, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Richland’s Shilling Center, 1 College Park, Decatur.
     The event will be hosted by The Macon Coun-ty Jefferson Jack-son Club and the Democrat Women of Macon County.
You can get more information at or on their Facebook page, or by contacting them by mail at P.O. Box 35 Mount Zion, IL 62549.

Sen. Penny Severns

     Penny was a trailblazer and I was there as her political career started and through her years as our state senator and her fight to keep going during that difficult final stretch before her death.
     I produced and hosted the daily “Newsline” television program and moderated the only campaign debate between her and Senator Jim Rupp.
     Both were longtime friends of mine and that was one of the reasons I landed the debate, but, at a pre-debate meeting in my office at the newspaper, you could have cut the tension with a knife.
     Senator Rupp accused her of calling him a derogatory name that had been reported back to him.
     When he demanded to know if she had called him that name, which referred to his weight, she calmly responded “Jim, that doesn’t deserve an answer” meaning that she would have never called anybody such a name.
     By the time the live debate rolled around a few days later, Senator Rupp (who was mayor of Decatur during my early years as an editor) had calmed down and I thought he did quite well during the debate but Severns went on to win the election.

     • AFTER SHE was elected senator, Penny appeared on my tv news program many times and, regardless of how tired she was after a long day in the capitol, she would still come to our studio and be interviewed. She had told me before the election that she would always sit down for an interview anytime I wanted to do one — and she kept that promise.
     While most people remember Penny Severns for the years she served as senator in our 51st District, I also remember that, in the 1980s, she won a seat on the Decatur City Council with the largest number of votes in the city’s history at that time.

     • PENNY SEVERNS lost her battle with cancer and died at her home in Decatur in February, 1998, at the age of 46, leaving many to not only mourn her passing but wonder how much higher she would have climbed in state and national politics had she lived longer.
It doesn’t seem possible that she passed away a quarter-of-a-century ago. It seems like only yesterday that we were on the set of Newsline talking about what was happening in our district and in Springfield.
     Penny Severns was a political leader at a time when friendships were not about political parties, but about the people elected to public office because they were interested in serving the people in their community and district.
Penny Severns and I disagreed on many issues, but our friendship was always a higher priority than politics or public opinion. We could disagree with each other and not be disagreeable.
     Frankly, I very much miss those days when the political landscape was much different than what we often experience today.
However, I will add that we are fortunate at the local level in having candidates and officeholders with a desire to serve, rather than be served.
     I have a lot of respect for those who make the commitment to work for the people of Decatur and Macon County and follow through after the election.

     • GREAT NEWS! The Decatur Park District announced that boat races will be returning to Lake Decatur with the launch of Hardy’s Highway … Race for the Lake on June 8 and 9, 2024!
     I’ll have more on the races as we get closer to the dates.

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday at 7:00 a.m. for the “City Hall Insider” — something we’ve done every week for over 20 years.

     • FOR MORE City Beat, opinions, historical articles and current news about Decatur and Central Illinois, subscribe to the Decatur Tribune newspaper’s print or online edition.


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