Winfield, major hospital reach agreement for $900k annual grant

Winfield is a small suburb with money problems; the hospital in town is expanding and has money. Solution? A sizable annual grant from the hospital to the village:

Winfield will receive a $900,000 annual grant over each of the next five years from Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital as part of an agreement finalized Monday, officials said…

“We recognize the unique economic challenges facing Winfield,” CDH President Brian Lemon said in a statement released Monday afternoon. The hospital, he said, “is committed to working with the village to ensure Winfield remains a great place to live, raise families and receive high-quality health care. Our collaboration with the village of Winfield is designed to encourage economic development while stimulating the village’s economy.”…

CDH made the new offer after Winfield trustees rejected the hospital’s first proposal to give the village an annual $500,000 grant. The board was seeking roughly $1.4 million a year from CDH to help pay for the services Winfield provides to the hospital…

Winfield trustees even voted to put an advisory question on the March 15 primary election ballot that would ask voters if the village board should begin taxing CDH’s operations. The village clerk would have submitted that ballot question to DuPage County election officials had an agreement not been finalized Monday, but officials said it’s no longer necessary.

I wonder how common such agreements are. The hospital provides jobs and status yet is quite the growing facility exempt from the local property tax rolls. Here is how the Village of Winfield described the issue in October 2015:

CDH was established approximately 50 years ago as a small hospital in Winfield’s town center. In the 1990’s, the hospital began a series of major expansions of its campus through numerous property acquisitions. The majority of the purchases were commercial properties located in the town center.
The hospital now controls nearly 60% of the property in the Village ’s town center and has expanded its footprint across both of the downtown’s major arteries – Winfield and High Lake Roads.
CDH has benefited from the expansions. It is now a nationally-ranked hospital and by far the most profitable hospital in Illinois according to tax filings compiled by Crain’s Magazine. CDH has averaged a yearly profit of $160 million over the past five years with growing reserves of approximately $2 billion in cash and investments. Meanwhile the Village has continued cutting staff and services to cope with lean budgets and leaner forecasts.

Is this solely the case of the big non-profit hospital dwarfing the small village? However, Winfield has its own issues including very rancorous infighting among local political officials and candidates (I have not seen many suburb with such regular negative interactions) and a limited tax base (as the community debates whether to expand it).

Maybe this annual grant is a decent solution to the issue: the hospital is unlikely to move and the village needs money. I imagine hospital officials appreciate the village threatening to put something on the ballots unless money is provided and the village is probably not entirely happy with the amount of money. In the end, this seems like a payoff. Do these two parties really need each other and how much is this worth annually?

Chicago suburb of Long Grove wants to privatize almost half of its public roads

Maintaining roads is expensive and the Chicago suburb of Long Grove has a potential solution: privatize a lot of its public roads.

Facing an annual funding gap of more than $1 million, Long Grove trustees have twice in recent months affirmed a plan that could privatize nearly half of the village’s public roads — transferring the cost of upkeep and plowing to the residents in the process…

Experts in public planning and municipal finance agree that Long Grove has hit upon an unusual potential solution to a commonplace problem. They say other communities also struggling to make ends meet could follow suit as aging roads deteriorate and revenue streams dry up. Yet such plans could eat away at the public’s trust in local leadership even as they mitigate public deficits, warned Joseph Schwieterman, a DePaul University transportation professor.

“It’s going to create resentment that city hall has broken its contract to fix the roads, and that could lead to turmoil that tears at the social capital of a community,” he said.

What has surprised some in and around well-to-do Long Grove is that the community — with its spacious home lots, ample green space and refined, rural character — finds itself in the situation at all. Recent census figures count it among the wealthiest villages in the Chicago area based on median income. Yet having more affluent residents doesn’t necessarily equate to a strong tax base, especially in towns that have little or no industry…

Local leaders first realized in the 1970s that to pay for maintaining roads without a property tax, something had to give, said Long Grove Village Manager David Lothspeich. After that, the board allowed public streets in new subdivisions only if they were main roads, and eventually entire subdivisions sprang up without a single public road, he said.

It sounds like a set of trade-offs: the community has a particular image and character involving big lots, nice homes, and no property taxes but to help maintain that character means limited commercial development. However, having less commercial or industrial development means fewer sources of property and sales taxes that can be used to maintain the community’s infrastructure. The money has to come from somewhere…

However the money is raised in the future for roads, it will be interesting to see how this affects the community’s character and image. Will people move away? Will it be as attractive?

Another suburb dealing with a similar issue is Winfield. The village has had difficulty paying for road maintenance and the debate in recent years has been whether to allow commercial development along the Roosevelt Road corridor that passes through the southern part of the community but it currently limited to larger lots.