Naperville School District 203 ended its nine-year legal battle with the city of Warrenville when the Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to settle a lawsuit over funds from a Cantera Tax Increment Financing district.
Warrenville followed suit Tuesday night when its City Council also accepted the terms of the settlement.
District 203 School Board President Jackie Romberg said that she would have no comment on the matter when contacted by telephone, explaining that both parties were under court order not to discuss the details of the case, including the particulars of the settlement.
Warrenville City Manager John Coakley also acknowledged that terms of the settlement were prohibited from public discussion by court order, although he did reveal the cost to the city of the legal battle.
“It was just over $200,000,” he said.
Final legal costs for District 203 weren’t immediately available, but as of a year ago the district had acknowledged spending $446,163 arguing its case.
TIF districts are generally formed in an effort to improve infrastructure and fund other improvements in an area. The work is funded by increased tax revenue generated by development at the site.
The Cantera TIF district expired in 2009, but District 203 filed its suit in 2005, claiming that funds from the TIF were improperly diverted to other taxing bodies named in the suit, among them the Warrenville Park District, the Warrenville Library, the Warrenville Fire Protection District and Wheaton School District 200.
The district estimated that between $1 million and $2 million annually had been diverted improperly to the other taxing districts, money the district claimed should legally go to educating students in District 203.
At the heart of the School District’s suit was the contention that funds from the original Cantera TIF were illegally diverted into an account for another TIF district adjacent to the original one, while Warrenville maintained that the transfer was completely legal and done in a manner consistent with state statute.
During past public meetings and in various media accounts, Warrenville has stressed the point that because the property in TIF 2 that falls in District 203 includes no residences, the district incurred no additional expenses due to the TIF.
Warrenville officials have also pointed out that with the original TIF being in debt, there would be no money to be had even if District 203 won a judgement against Warrenville.
Moreover, Warrenville officials have always pointed out that the additional $10 million in property taxes created by the original TIF constituted a financial windfall for District 203.
“It’s basically free money,” Warrenville Mayor Dave Brummel said in an October 2013 article in the Sun.Tags: lawsuit, Naperville School District 203, Warrenville