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Carbondale council OKs TIF 2, vacation-rental plan is tabled for now

By Curtis Winston
Contributing Writer
updated: 9/1/2022 1:37 PM

The Carbondale City Council has approved a new tax-increment financing district, but a proposed "overlay" of the TIF areas that would have expanded vacation-rental units was sent back to city planners.

As approved, TIF 2 has been expanded to include adjacent residential areas. These include areas covering the city's northeast and northwest, as well as the Arbor District, which is the residential area west of U.S. Highway 51 and south of Illinois Route 13.

Under tax-increment financing, taxes are refunded or diverted to help finance development in blighted areas. Governments also may use TIF to pay for public infrastructure improvements.

The TIF 2 vote was held in three portions, with the tally at 5-0-1, 5-1 and 5-0-1, with council member Ginger Rye Sanders either abstaining or as a "no."

Also present were council members Jeff Doherty, Adam Loos, Tom Grant, Lee Fronabarger and Carolin Harvey as mayor pro tempore in place of Mayor Mike Henry, who is taking a leave of absence following the death of his wife.

The TIF 2 map would have included an "overlay" that would have allowed for an expansion of vacation-rental properties in residential areas.

City Manager Gary Williams told the council that that the owner-occupied rule for vacation-rental units, or VRUs, would be dropped in the residential TIF, and that the number of VRU permits would be capped at 100.

Council member Loos said the VRU policy did not go far enough, and he wanted rules to keep some landlords from taking advantage of the city.

"I see this as a large bail-out for the unscrupulous landlords," Loos said. "There is a rapacious class of landlords who have basically mined the value out of Carbondale. Now they are suffering, they are hurting because of the steep decline in SIU enrollment.

"We're ready to deliver the knock-out blow and we offer them a large bailout," he said.

Loos said he wanted licensing for landlords to be part of the proposed VRU policy.

Council member Doherty agreed, noting that licensing would strengthen the city's oversight on landlords and rental properties.

Rye Sanders was eager to vote on the VRU overlay, and saw no reason to tie landlord licensing to it. "We have done nothing to regulate slumlords in Carbondale, and now you want them because of the vacation rentals. You want to deal with the slumlords, deal with the slumlords. We don't have to wait to do something until we pass the vacation rental unit. We should look at this as an advancement for Carbondale."

Nonetheless, the vote on the VRU overlay was tabled, with the proposal sent back to city planners to add the licensing provision.

In other business, the council unanimously approved a $23,550 agreement with Policy Confluence conduct a national community survey, which will be conducted in the next several weeks. It will include a random poll of households, as well as an open-response period.

Also approved 6-0 was the $163,254 purchase of three new police vehicles from Vogler Motors, a budgeted item.

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