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Vote to Raise Taxes for New Illinois Casino on the Table

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The Aurora City Council in Illinois is set to take a series of pivotal votes in January that will pave the way for establishing a tax increment financing (TIF) district for Penn Entertainment's relocation of its Hollywood Casino Aurora resort project. This proposed TIF district, named the Farnsworth-Bilter TIF District, will encompass several land parcels currently owned by Penn Entertainment, the parent company of Hollywood Casino Aurora.

Bigger and Bettor for Penn

The TIF district is a key component of the redevelopment agreement between Penn and the City of Aurora, which the City Council approved in October 2022. Under this agreement, Penn plans to invest $360 million in a state-of-the-art casino resort complex adjacent to Chicago Premium Outlets at the Farnsworth Avenue and Bilter Road intersection.

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As an incentive for Penn to undertake this development, the City of Aurora agreed to provide a $50-million upfront investment toward the project. This funding will be sourced from a bond issue, which will be repaid using the proceeds generated by the TIF district.

City officials estimate that the TIF district increment, once the casino resort is fully operational, will generate upwards of $5.5 million annually. This increment would be primarily used to service the bond, including the principal and interest payments.

In adhering to the agreement between Aurora and the Batavia School District, any rise in funds – up to 10% - is categorized as a surplus and dispersed equitably among all taxable entities encompassed within the boundaries of the TIF area. This leaves a remainder of funds to be allocated for enhancing development-associated infrastructure facilities, such as augmenting the water system, upgrading sewage facilities, and improving roads.

Upon receiving the official endorsement of the redevelopment agreement, the City Council granted its final endorsement to the casino's development plans. Furthermore, it turned over three properties it owned to Penn and assigned an engineer to supervise all indispensable road-related undertakings. The city also granted Penn the choice to acquire three properties within the development zone: namely, the church, Alamo Ballroom, and Gaslight Manor. These assets have been duly conveyed to the casino from its headquarters.

Long Time Coming

In pursuit of relocating Hollywood Casino Aurora, the city's endeavors commenced back in 2019 by procuring two motels along Farnsworth Avenue to secure the essential land for development. Moreover, the city already possesses a third plot adjacent to the motel. The city organized a public hearing in December to gather input on establishing the Farnsworth-Bilter TIF district.

In order to establish this space, the city must undertake the task of extracting select patches of land that have been influenced by the current TIF District 7. This district encompasses a portion of Farnsworth Avenue, an office complex adjacent to the Turnpike, and Mitchell roads. Additionally, the upcoming regulations will outline the specific boundaries of the construction project area within the TIF District 7 blueprint.

The potential revisions to TIF District 7, scheduled to lapse in 2034, will undergo voting once more during the upcoming City Council assembly on January 23. The establishment of the Farnsworth-Bilter TIF district plays a crucial role in the advancement of the Hollywood Casino-Aurora amusement endeavor. By utilizing the TIF procedure, the project will acquire vital financial support for its construction and ongoing functioning.

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