President Lincoln part of Winchester meeting about TIF district

By Jim McCabe on February 12 at 2:02pm

JustFritz

Photo of Fritz Klein from the Lincoln Institute website. Klein will portray Lincoln at the Scott County Courthouse tomorrow night.

City officials in Winchester hope an appearance by Abraham Lincoln will get people interested in an important upcoming civic discussion.

An informational town meeting being held at the Scott County Courthouse tomorrow will focus on, among other topics, Winchester’s push to create a Tax Increment Financing district.

Speakers will include Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation President Terry Denison, Jacksonville Main Street Executive Director Judy Tighe, and Anthony Rubano with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

Winchester Mayor Rex McIntyre says those individuals will speak from 6:00 to 7 p.m.

“We’re going to be discussing what we’re doing with our city government, what we’re trying to do to rejuvenate our downtown area, and make Winchester more attractive for people to move there and businesses to come to town,” he says.

TIF districts authorize property improvements; the tax revenue generated from increases in property value is used to finance those improvements.

The process of implementing the district has taken several months and has included several hearings. The city is working with Edwardsville-based Moran Economic Development. McIntyre says part of the discussion tomorrow will explain what a TIF district does and doesn’t do.

“Some people have misgivings about what it’s about. It does not raise your taxes per se. Terry Denison’s going to speak a little bit about that, some of the things he’s already seen with the TIF districts in Jacksonville and South Jacksonville,” says McIntyre.

“We’ve been trying to get this thing started to help build up revenues for the city so we can make improvements to our infrastructure, maybe some new sidewalks and streets and lighting and so forth.”

McIntyre says the general reaction he’s gotten from Winchester residents is support for the TIF district.

He says businesses that will be part of the district include the Illinois Meter Company, which he says is talking about expansion plans. The city has been working to get water and gas lines extended there. The mayor says the expansion will mean property tax revenue go up.

McIntyre adds there are several vacant downtown buildings that need to be filled.

“We’re not immune to this downtown blight that a lot of small towns are suffering, and hopefully we get some business and get some more taxes coming in to those buildings and businesses,” he says.

President Lincoln will be performed by Fritz Klein from 7 to 8 p.m. Winchester has historic ties to the president, as he delivered an anti-slavery speech related to the Kansas-Nebraska Act in Scott County.

“He also performs at the Abraham Lincoln Museum occasionally. In fact, he goes all over the country portraying Abraham Lincoln. We were very fortunate to get him; the man is excellent, he does a fabulous job of portraying Lincoln,” says McIntyre.

“That’s mainly our drawing to get people out there. I asked him to touch on the Kansas-Nebraska speech because this was the initial time that Lincoln gave that speech. That is one connection that we have with Lincoln. He later gave it in Peoria and Chicago,” he continues.

Tomorrow’s discussion will also include a website promoting the City of Winchester that’s currently in development.

The town meeting starts off with a meet-and-greet with light refreshments from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

“We’re going to be discussing what we’re doing with our city government, what we’re trying to do to rejuvenate our downtown area, and make Winchester more attractive for people to move there and businesses to come to town,” he says.