Oak Lawn and Target originally approved their incentive agreement in 2005 while Target was preparing to build a store at 95th Street and Keeler Avenue. The agreement called for the village to take out a $4 million loan to buy a parking lot at Target’s new store and use it as a municipal lot. That loan was to be paid back through a special half-cent tax on the new store’s sales.
But although Oak Lawn took out the loan three years ago, Target’s special sales tax payments were never collected after its Oak Lawn store opened in 2007.
Target plans to start collecting the tax Oct. 1, and alternative arrangements will be worked out for this month’s payment, village finance director Brian Hanigan said.
Still, the mix-up may serve as a starting point to revise the incentive agreement, which was highly controversial when it was approved by a lame-duck session of the village board in 2005. Deetjen has called the agreement bad public policy and said it needs to be amended.
Back when I was covering land-use issues, tax incentive agreements like this were common. Companies would come in and say, we’ll come to your shithole town and bring our jobs and cheap crap for sale, but you have to promise not to make us pay the full amount of the sales tax revenue that is the main reason you want us here in the first place. That way, we’ll stay rich, your schools and roads and cops stay lousy, and everybody wins!
But nobody ever had the balls to say no, because there was always another town that is a slightly bigger shithole six miles over that is willing to agree.