D.215, Sears negotiate deal over River Oaks property value

2012-10-28T00:00:00Z D.215, Sears negotiate deal over River Oaks property valueGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 28, 2012 12:00 am  • 

CALUMET CITY | Attorneys for Sears, Roebuck & Co. and the Thornton Fractional high schools have negotiated a deal that will impact the amount of property taxes the school district receives from the Sears store at River Oaks Shopping Center.

The Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215 School Board gave its approval to the deal that sets at $9.4 million the market value from 2011 to 2013 for the Sears store that is a significant taxpaying business within the district.

In recent years, Sears has filed several appeals contending that its property was overvalued by the Cook County assessor’s office, and those appeals have been upheld.

The result has been a loss of property tax revenue for local governments and school districts, including District 215. Officials have said previously they lost between $800,000 and $1 million per academic year.

Finance Director Charles DiMartino said Sears officials were preparing to file another appeal concerning their property value, which caused district officials to react.

He said that attorneys for the district have spent recent months negotiating with Sears and the end result is the $9.4 million value that both the store and the school district agree upon.

It is less than the value the Cook County assessor placed on the property, but DiMartino said the fact that the agreement runs for three years ensures there will not be any more appeals to the county in coming years.

“This carries over to next year, so it means they will not be appealing next year,” DiMartino said.

Superintendent Creg Williams said he also likes that aspect of the deal.

“Not only did they reach an agreement and lock it in, but they locked it in for (the next) two years,” he said. “That will give us some stability financially.”

School Board members appeared satisfied with the deal, although board member Michael Bolz expressed some dismay Sears would be more concerned about cutting its taxes rather than increase profitability.

“Right, because that’s better than to try to do better business,” Bolz quipped.

In other business, Williams told School Board members that completion of an upgrade of the air conditioning system at T.F. South High School in Lansing will cost $1.8 million this year, while the beginning of improvements to the air conditioning at T.F. North High School in Calumet City will cost $3 million this year and could take up to three years to complete.

The Calumet City-based high school dates back to the 1920s, and Williams said the building’s age accounts for the higher cost.

Officials also are contemplating a project to improve the lighting in the parking lots outside the district’s administrative offices and the T.F. Center for Academics and Technology, at an estimated cost of $80,000.

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