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Our View: Approve tax breaks for Wal-Mart

Updated: November 4, 2013 12:10PM



Maybe the biggest issue in Tinley Park these days is a proposal to turn a soybean field at 191st Street and Harlem Avenue into the site of a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Sam’s Club warehouse store. The property is prime commercial land at a busy intersection and across the street from a large retail center anchored by a SuperTarget.

Before it builds the stores, the world’s biggest retailer, as it typically does, wants property and sales tax breaks — in this case, a total of about $5.4 million from the village, two school districts and the Frankfort Square Park District over several years.

That request has stirred opposition to the plan from some homeowners in the nearby Brookside Glen subdivision, where residents fought a Wal-Mart store a few years ago — winning when Wal-Mart withdrew its plan as the Great Recession sunk retail sales.

We think the opponents’ concerns are exaggerated and misguided. They seem to think that the planned development will raise their already-high tax bills. On the contrary, it will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue per year to the local governments and likely lower tax bills. Generally, the stronger a community’s business tax base, the lower the tax burden on homeowners.

Tinley Park trustees, the school boards in Summit Hill District 161 and Lincoln-Way High School District 210 and the park district board will soon vote on the tax breaks. We urge them to sign on because the projected revenue is too good to pass up.

Even with the tax incentives, over the first decade the stores are open District 161 would get $4.5 million in new tax revenue, District 210 would see $2.5 million more and Tinley Park would gain $1.8 million, according to the village estimates. And District 210, which owns the site, would also get $7.5 million from its sale.

And the annual tax income would increase substantially once the tax breaks end. That ain’t chump change, folks.

For some, it’s tough to stomach tax breaks for a giant corporation, but that’s the development game today. Many Southland towns have seen their tax base decline during the last decade and would love to get a Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club project. That should be the case with this plan, too.



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